Lacson questions P54-B allocation for House Reps in 2020 budget

Maris Federez   •   September 23, 2019   •   1101

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday (September 23) questioned the P54-Billion allocated for House representatives (HOR) in the 2020 proposed national budget.

“In the initial information that we received, each Deputy speaker, 22 of them, will be receiving an additional allocation of P1.5-B. So that’s P33-B and each congressman will be given an allocation of P700-M,” Lacson said.

The senator sought to have the matter thoroughly checked to ensure that it is not a pork barrel.

Lacson claimed that he got the information from a member of the Lower House.

But based on the statement made by House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Joey Salceda, they are only allocating P100-M to each congressman, which, he said, is based on the need of their respective districts.

Lacson, however, said that the allocation is still questionable, as he is not sure if it had gone through the intense scrutiny of the lower house and the agencies that could be the recipient of such funds.

“Hindi naman dapat pare-pareho ang allocation sa district [Allocation for each district need not be identical]. It should be need-based and priority-based,” he added.

The senator stressed that the law provides that a government agency or a particular district should have already identified a project and the details of which are already itemized in the budget proposal before the said fund is released to them.

“Kung ii-introduce pa lang nila as amendments o individual amendments, lalabas bawat isa sa kanila may P100M [If they will introduce it as admendments or individual amendments, it will turn out that each of them will have P100-M]. Then, if it is not pork, I don’t know what it is,” Lacson further stressed.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, maintained that the fund is not a pork barrel, as it is intended for the construction of flyovers, seaports, airports, and other major highways in their districts.

He also argued that the Senate can scrutinize the budget in the bicameral conference.

“I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank na concern pa rin yung bawat congressman na hindi ma-zero or hindi maisahan yung kaniyang lugar at wala masyadong pondo. Pero walang nakatagong pork,” Cayetano asserted.

[I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank that the congressmen are concerned that their districts will not be left behind and be without a budget. But there is no hidden pork in it.] (from the report of Grace Casin) /mbmf

House on lockdown due to Omicron threat

Maris Federez   •   January 4, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) is now under lockdown amid the threat of coronavirus disease Omicron variant.

HOR Secretary-General Mark Mendoza said the move is to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of all employees.

Mendoza said the House will resume operation next week.

The Senate, on the other hand, said it will not implement a lockdown, but instead, will just suspend all scheduled hearings on Wednesday, January 5.

According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, there is no need, so far, for placing the Upper House under lockdown.

Sotto added that they have been implementing a limited number of onsite personnel since the long holiday, and that, so far, no employee was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Both Houses of Congress are still on session break and are due to resume sessions on January 17. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Solons call on government to fast track response vs Omicron

Maris Federez   •   January 3, 2022


MANILA, Philippines — Two members of the House of Representatives have called on the national government to fast track measures to combat the COVID-19 Omicron variant and prevent the rapid spread of the virulent viral disease.

House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said that the government must see to it that isolation areas are ready and prepared for the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in hospitals and other health care facilities.

Salceda said treatment facilities and unused isolation centers must be reactivated in preparation for the Omicron variant so that isolating COVID-19 patients will be swift.

“So, if we can isolate the infected and treat them quickly, we should do alright. Of course, that will require some flexibility in treatment capacity again. So, we need to reactivate disused or unused isolation centers in preparation for Omicron,” he said.

The lawmaker said he plans to meet with testing czar Vince Dizon and discuss with the official the capacity of the country’s isolation facilities.

Salceda also called on the Department of Health to expedite the procurement of COVID-19 therapeutics.

He further said that the Lower House is prepared for any amendment in the budget so that the government can purchase needed ventilators and other equipment and medicines in case surges in hospital admission take place.

Meanwhile, BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co has called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately release to local government units their share of the approved Php5.024 trillion 2022 national budget.

Co said the budget will be used by the LGUs in distributing free COVID-19 kits to every family in Metro Manila.

“Ang pondong ido-download sa mga LGUs ang gagamitin upang mabilis silang makapagpamahagi ng libreng COVID-19 kits sa bawat household sa buong Metro Manila. Ilan sa dapat maging laman ng COVID-19 kits ang alcohol, sabong panlaba, sabong panligo, mouthwash, at medical grade face mask,” Co said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Congress ratifies Php5.024-T 2022 national budget

Maris Federez   •   December 15, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives on Wednesday (December 15) approved the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed ₱5.024-trillion national budget for 2022.

With its ratification by both houses of Congress, the bill will then be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.

Congress will go on session break effective Thursday as lawmakers go on break for the holidays.

A significant portion of the 2022 national budget, the Philippine government’s highest national expenditure plan in history — is allocated to the COVID-19 response and all other programs for economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Senator Sonny Angara has earlier said that the approved Bicameral Conference Committee report has adjusted the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Lawmakers restored the NTF ELCAC’s budget to the 16 or 16.5 billion-peso level.

Around 20 to 30 billion pesos were also added to the budget of the DOH.

“Tapos sa DOLE naglagay rin tayo ng testing for yung  naghahanap ng trabaho. Nakatutok na rin tayo sa economic recovery natin,” Angara said.

The Bicam report also included in the budget funding for COVID-19 vaccines estimated at 45 to 50 billion pesos as part of the government’s efforts in fighting the deadly disease as the country is gradually opening its economy. —/mbmf


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