House holds marathon budget deliberations to meet October deadline

MANILA The House of Representatives is holding marathon deliberations even extending the plenary session until the wee hours on the proposed PHP3.757-trillion 2019 national budget to meet its approval deadline by October 12, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Tuesday.

Well it's a decision to be able to comply with our legislative calendar that we have set together. We wanted to pass the budget bill before we go on recess so we can pass it to the Senate and they can finish it on time for signing (into law by President Rodrigo Duterte) before the end of the year, Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview.

The marathon session that started 10 a.m. Monday lasted until 2:49 a.m. the next day. The Lower House was able to finish the deliberations on the proposed budgets of the Judiciary, Commission on Human Rights, Civil Service Commission, Department of Justice, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other executive offices.

Congress even held sessions on Thursday and Friday last week to tackle the proposed budgets of various government agencies.

Arroyo said it is normal for lawmakers working overtime to finish the budget deliberations and beat its deadline before the congressional break.

You know I don't find it 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, Arroyo said.

She, however, said the plan to hold sessions on Thursdays and Fridays were discarded so that lawmakers can prepare for the upcoming filing of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections on October 11 to 17.

"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 and so I said that's fine with me, we will not have Thursday and Friday sessions but that means we will have to overtime on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems to be working well anyway," Arroyo said.

According to the updated House schedule, budget deliberations would last until October 3.

The House is expected to approve the General Appropriations Bill on third and final reading on October 12. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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