Members of the majority in the House of Representatives held a caucus to ensure the passage of P4.5 trillion 2021 national budget.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also gave assurance that the special session that President Duterte called for on October 13 to 16 will be “fruitful.”
In a Facebook Live post taken during an online caucus with majority members, Cayetano said the group has been poring over the budget to make sure it is responsive to the need of every sector and locality as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just want to assure the public, hinihimay namin nang husto ang bawat isang programa, ang bawat sector, ang bawat lugar,” he said.
He said this is because each sector has different needs that need to be addressed.
“Iba ang pangangailangan ng bata ngayon na nasa ibang klaseng learning environment, iba ang kailangan ng senior na hindi makalabas, iba ang pangangailangan ng PWD (persons with disability), iba ang pangangailangan sa kalusugan, iba ang pangangailangan sa saving lives,” he said.
(Students who are now in a different environment have their needs, seniors who cannot go out have their needs, PWDs have their needs, the health sector has its own needs, saving lives has different requirements.)
Cayetano said this is why the majority has been working on the budget over the weekend.
“Asahan n’yo (Rest assured) this Special Session will be very fruitful,” he said.
The President on Friday issued Proclamation No. 1027 calling Congress to a special session “to avoid any further delays on the prompt passage” of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
The previous day, the President told members of Congress to resolve the issues that have been threatening to delay the budget. “If you do not solve the problem then I will solve the problem for you,” he said.
In his Facebook Live post, Cayetano said the President, in calling Congress to a Special Session, “has the knowledge and information about the country, about the situation, how to do things.”
“That’s why we always respect his wisdom,” he said.
Cayetano had earlier maintained that the budget will not be delayed and that the House will be able to approve it on Third and Final Reading on November 16 and submit it to the Senate by November 17 — a difference of only one day from the original schedule.
But he said the apprehension expressed by the President has pushed Congress to work even faster.
“Ang importante mapasa agad ang budget. Kahit na sinasabi natin na one day lang ang difference, if (it) will really matter then kailangang ipasa namin kaagad,” he said.
(The important thing is we pass the budget. Even if we have been saying the difference will only be one day, if it will really matter then we need to pass it as soon as possible.)
Cayetano urged the members of the House to set aside politics and work together on the budget.
“Ang akin pong objective, at akin pong ipinaalam sa Pangulo, ay magkaroon ng magandang budget at tapusin itong budget na ito. “Yun na lang po ang talagang aking hangarin dito,” he said.
(My objective, and I have made this known to the President, is to have a good budget and to finish it. That is my only goal.)
Cayetano also asked for prayers not just for Congress to pass the budget but for wisdom to make sure the programs are truly responsive and would be felt by the people.