House OKs P1.645 trillion national budget for 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 10:47

As Congress resumed session on Monday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the proposed P1.645 trillion national budget for 2011 with the controversial P21 billion budget for conditional cash transfer (CCT) program intact.

Congressmen voted 175 against 21, adopting House Bill No. 3101, the first-ever national budget under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman moved to block the voting, citing Section 26, paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides for a three-day notice rule.

The provision states that: "No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal."

However, House Deputy Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, countered Lagman.

Gonzales said HB 3101 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2011, was certified urgent by President Aquino and there was no more need to follow the three-day notice rule.

Lagman, in a press statement, said the GAA bill is a "virtual copycat" of the President’s National Expenditure Program "with no substantial amendments adopted from the submissions of House members, except the special provisions on the itemization of the P21-billion CCT and the creation of an oversight committee on the CCT as endorsed by the minority."

"Whatever changes effected in budgetary allocations were at the instance of the Department of Budget and Management through a series of errata," he said.

Lagman further said that "unless the majority in the House would realize that they have abdicated the Congressional power of independently appropriating the national budget, the tyranny of numbers will pass the GAA on third reading even as the Majority will preside upon a self-derogation of the legislative authority over the public purse."

The first budget of the Aquino administration was met with stiff opposition because of the controversial P21-billion CCT program budget under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) P34 billion budget.

Of the proposed DSWD budget, some P29.2 billion was allocated for the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which will provide conditional cash grants to poor households nationwide.

While fund allocation for the CCT program will remain intact, the House may slash the proposed P15 billion allocation for private-public partnership by P5 billion to P6 billion and realign it to social services items.

Cavite Rep. Joseph Emil Abaya, chair of the House committee on appropriations, earlier said the huge portion of the realignment worth P2.5 billion will be used by the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy palay for farmers.

Under the proposed 2011 budget submitted by Malacanang, NFA has zero budget.

It also includes the P1.2 billion earmarked by the Department of Public Works and Highways to augment the infrastructure budget of all congressional districts.

The proposed 2011 GAA would be based on revenues of P1.41 trillion, of which