The House of Representatives has created a “small committee” to receive and evaluate amendments to the proposed 2024 P5.768 trillion General Appropriations Act.
This was after lawmakers approved on third and final reading the national budget without amendments.
The small committee will be composed of House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rep. Elizaldy Co, Appropriations Senior vice chairperson Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, and Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan. They will review all the amendments before submitting the national budget to the Senate.
The amendments are expected to include confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) from government agencies, including the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education. The amendments will augment the budgets of intelligence and security forces tasked with addressing escalating threats in the West Philippine Sea.
Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Marlyn Primias-Agabas said the creation of a small committee to receive and resolve all individual amendments to HB 8980 or the General Appropriations Bill, was “consistent with our parliamentary precedent.”
House Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela voted “no” on the passage of the proposed 2024 budget of P5.768 trillion, “which was passed on final reading without a clear discussion of amendments.”
“The theme is said to be ‘Agenda for Prosperity,’ but it is actually an agenda for the selective prosperity of the few, especially those who will be blessed with confidential funds. This is a national budget that will ensure violence, kickbacks on infrastructure projects, standby pork, and debt payments,” she said.
Also, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel, Act Teachers Rep. France Castro, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman called for the abolition of all CIF in the national budget for 2024.
“Remove the CIF from agencies whose respective principal mandates have no affinity with or nexus to these secret funds. Reallocate the CIF to education, health, and other social services. Limit the amount of CIF even in the agencies entitled to such funds,” said Lagman.
Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez authorized all standing and special committees to hold hearings during the congressional break from September 28, 2023, to November 5, 2023.
Romualdez said he instructed House leaders to hold committee hearings during the break to ensure the expeditious passage of noteworthy and meaningful legislative measures, including those aimed at addressing the high prices of basic commodities.
“While we already passed almost all of our priority bills listed under LEDAC [Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council] and SONA [State of the Nation Address], we want to accelerate the passage of other House priority legislation,” Romualdez said.
“We still have a lot on our legislative table, and other urgent measures are in various stages of deliberation,” Romualdez said.
Under his leadership, Romualdez said they would continue to work hard and focus on shepherding the priority legislation of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to address and serve the needs of the people during these challenging and difficult times.
Romualdez said House members “have been diligent in our parliamentary duties not only because it is expected of us, but also because we continue to be a faithful and dependable partner of the Executive Department in bringing about policies that enhance the wellbeing of our fellow Filipinos and strengthen the capacities of both the national and local governments.”
Romualdez reported the 100-percent approval of LEDAC 20 priority bills three months ahead of time.