President Benigno Aquino III has certified the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015 as urgent to expedite its approval on third and final reading today by the House of Representatives.
In a letter to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. dated Oct. 23, Aquino said he was certifying “to the necessity of the immediate enactment” of the spending measure.
He said the speedy passage of the proposed budget would “ensure budgetary preparedness that would enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate of funding various programs, projects and activities for fiscal year 2015, and in order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year.”
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the presidential certification would enable the House to approve the proposed budget on final reading.
“It will allow us to dispense with the three-day rule, which requires us to schedule final-reading vote only three days after printed copies of a bill are distributed to members,” Gonzales said.
Amended copies of the budget measure would be distributed today to House members. After that, members can proceed to vote on it.
Gonzales said the House has to pass the budget on final reading today before Congress goes on a two-week Halloween break so it can transmit the spending proposal to the Senate, which could begin considering it when sessions resume on Nov. 17.
“We have to have the 2015 budget passed by Congress and signed by the President before yearend to avoid the reenactment or recycling of the current year’s outlay,” he added.
Gonzalez noted that a recycled outlay is considered as a presidential pork barrel since it is all subject to the discretion of the President, save for funding for salaries and other mandatory obligations. Both Aquino and members of Congress do not want a reenacted budget.
Under the rules of the House, a budget that is up for third and final reading vote is not subject to further debates.
“We already had extensive discussions during the second-reading consideration of this measure,” Gonzales said. The Philippine Star