(SEPTEMBER 20, 2019) – The Makabayan bloc condemned on Friday the fast-tracking of the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, with Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate saying the general appropriations bill’s original deadline is not due until October 4.
The House of Representatives is fast-tracking the bill’s approval by Sept. 20, after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte certified it as urgent last Sept. 18.
“Bakit ba nagmamadali? Ano ang dahilan ng pagmamadali?” Zarate rhetorically asked, noting that the Department of Budget and Management only submitted the general appropriations bill (GAB) last August.
“Why are we sacrificing scrutiny? ‘Yong talagang makita natin, ano ang mga amendments, ‘yong makita na hawak-hawak natin ‘yong GAB,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte made the decision “to avoid a repeat of a re-enacted budget that wreaked havoc on the economic program of this administration, affected the timely delivery of basic services to the people and, ultimately, slowed our growth during the first quarter of this year.”
But Zarate said GAB being certified as urgent does not equate to compromising transparency.
ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro said GAB is not a bill that should simply be skimmed through, since it involves the taxpayers’ money and the country’s future.
“[Hindi pwedeng niraratsada ‘yong GAB] dahil hindi ito simpleng bill na one or two pages lang, madaling mababasa ng mga kinatawan,” Castro said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, for his part, said the president will veto GAB if he learns of any anomalies.
“If he (Duterte) thinks it’s unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, then he will veto it,” Nograles said. (Nikko Garcia/JMF)