Certify 2022 budget, House asks Palace

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

THE leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday formally asked President Duterte to certify as urgent the P5.024-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2022.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Committee on Appropriations Chairman Eric Go Yap said the House sent its formal letter of request to President Duterte for the issuance of the urgent certification to expedite approval of the 2022 national budget.

With this certification, Congress dispenses with the three-day rule between second and third reading approvals of a measure.

The Office of the Presidential Spokesperson confirmed that the Office of the President received the request from the House, and said it was being studied.

The House eyes third and final reading approval by September 30 or before the congressional break.

At least 34 government agencies and attached agencies, commissions, bureaus and offices will still defend their budget allocations for 2022 at the plenary.

Congress goes on break from October 1 to November 7 as candidates for all national and local positions file their certificates of candidacy.

With the theme, “Sustaining the Legacy of Real Change for Future Generations,” the P5.024-trillion  budget is equivalent to 22.8 percent of GDP and is higher by 11.5 percent than this year’s national budget.

Defer

Meanwhile, the House deferred termination of its plenary deliberation on the P2-billion proposed budget of the  Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for fiscal year 2022.

The motion to defer was concurred in by legislators after Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani Zarate said there are still issues to be tackled with the DBM.

Zarate rued that “they [DBM] continually gave unsatisfactory answers and insisted on the legality of their actions on how the Executive department used budgetary savings and contingent funds.”

On the issue of savings, lawmakers learned with the submission of at least six agencies there are about P57-billion savings from 2017-2020, “but we never knew this because they were not posted. This is one of the reasons why it is stated in the General Appropriations Act that national savings should always be posted at the DBM web site and reported to Congress,” said the Davao-based solon.

“As it is  they are using funds at their leisure without Congress’ approval, thereby impinging on Congress’ power of the purse, and violating its mandate,” he added.

Second, Zarate said the DBM’s National Budget Circular 586 and its Administrative Order 41 are unconstitutional, even illegal, because it forces departments and agencies to declare savings not even at the middle of the year—at the same time that Bayanihan 2 and the GAA 2020 are still being implemented.

“The circular and the memo creates DAP-like funds that the Executive may use wherever it pleases him, making it a form of pork barrel, especially during election time,” he added.

Zarate noted the P10.3-billion unused fund that was transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

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