House hopes to pass budget bill before October recess

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

THE House of Representatives is committed to have the 2019 budget bill approved on third reading before Congress adjourns on Oct. 12, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said.

“We wanted to pass the budget bill before we go off on recess so we can pass it to the Senate and they can finish it in time for signing before the end of the year,” the Speaker told reporters in a chance interview.

The chamber has been conducting continuous plenary debate on House Bill 8169, or the General Appropriations Act of 2019 since Sept. 19.

“You know I don’t find (continuous session) strange because when I was Undersecretary of Trade, we also used to stay until 2 o’clock in the morning waiting for our turn. And when I was a Senator we also used to do our budget sessions until very, very late,” she said.

She said legislators have informed her of their intent to work late Monday to Wednesday before proceeding to their respective districts for the remainder of the week.

“We used to have budget sessions Thursdays and Fridays but they don’t want to have session on Thursday and Friday because we are nearing the period of filing of candidacy. Many discussions are now going on in the districts,” Ms. Arroyo said.

“I said that’s fine with me, we will not have Thursday and Friday sessions but that means we will have to do overtime on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems to be working well anyway,” she added.

The House, as of Tuesday morning, had terminated interpellation on the budgets of the Departments of Finance and Foreign Affairs, and the Office of the President, among others.

The budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) was being tackled early Tuesday, but debate was deferred due to the absence of Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux J. Uson, who was also unable to attend the committee-level deliberations.

The chamber is set to deliberate the 2019 budgets of other government agencies, such as the Office of the Vice-President and the Departments of Tourism National Defense. — Charmaine A. Tadalan