Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles asked his former colleagues at the House of Representatives to convene and just pass the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget because the government cannot afford to have any delays.
Nograles made the statement after President Duterte broke his silence regarding the speakership row between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, telling the Lower House to resolve the issue or he will do it himself if their dispute will derail the passage of the budget.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said Duterte’s message was clear — passing the budget on time is important because the country’s COVID-19 response and other programs depend on it.
“We cannot hostage the budget. We cannot afford any delays in the budget,” he told “The Source” on Friday.
“Ang dami nating kailangan ayusin (There’s a lot for us to fix) not only with regard to our response against COVID-19 but also the problem in terms of poverty, hunger, and jumpstarting the economy,” he added.
Nograles said what the House of Representatives can do now is just to resume deliberations and pass the budget on third and final reading.
“The long short of it is, I think, I believe, that the House of Representatives should convene and begin again budget deliberations and pass the budget before the break,” Nograles said.
“There is an opportunity to pass the budget as promised and as calendared. There is no reason to go on a break without passing it on third reading,” he added.
Nograles said the suspension of the House session should not have happened because it is not certain that when they resume deliberations on November 16, no further delay will hamper the passage of the budget.
“Even if you say na (that) you pass the budget on third reading, pag resume ng House (when the Lower House resumes session), that is an assumption na walang politicking na mag (no politicking would) come out on that day, November 16,” he said.
“You cannot presume as much. What if something else happens? You can never really predict what will happen on November 16,” he added.
Nograles said the House of Representatives should have stuck to the calendar.
“Ideally, you can pass it on third reading. But why take a chance when you can already pass the budget now as prescribed by the legislative calendar?” he said.
Cayetano, this week, made the motion to terminate the period of debates on and amendments to House Bill No. 7727, the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Malacañang had described the recent development in the House of Representatives as an “astute political move” as it effectively derailed a supposed turnover of leadership on October 14.