REP. LAWRENCE “LAW” H. FORTUN
Agusan del Norte 1st District
Member in the Minority
A lawyer by profession | Mobile number 09177292437
REENACTED BUDGET AVERTED, HOUSE MINORITY FISCALIZED TO MAKE SURE 2021 BUDGET ADDRESSES COVID-19, ECONOMIC RECOVERY
[Congress must be ready for bicam and ratification in late December]
It is not a perfect budget and we may not agree with certain items therein, but we are thankful that it has been promptly approved by the House.
We are certain now that we won’t be operating on a reenacted budget in 2021. Otherwise, we would be in a quandary as the same would not be responsive to the demands to curb the pandemic and mitigate its harsh impact on the country.
We thank the new leadership under Speaker Lord Alan Velasco for reopening the Second Reading and reverting to the period of sponsorship and debate. That gave us in the Minority further opportunity to interpellate on important items of the budget especially those of departments and agencies that play critical roles in the COVID-19 response.
The sudden termination of the plenary debates and the hasty approval on Second Reading last October 6 was anomalous. We were prompted in the Minority to continue with our own deliberations consistent with our role as fiscalizers to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilization of public funds.
There are flaws in the proposed budget as what came out in the debates. There is still a chance to address the issues such as the substantial deficiencies in the DOH budget for COVID-19 response, the considerable inadequacy of the DepEd’s budget for self-learning modules and the hefty cut in the appropriations for the DSWD, to mention some. The small committee, and later, the Bicameral Conference Committee should address these critical concerns.
Before the year ends, the House should be ready for the bicameral conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the budget bill, ratify the approved reconciled bill, and send it swiftly to Malacanang for signature of President Rodrigo Duterte. (END)