Senator Christopher “Bong” Go Friday urged his fellow legislators from the Senate and the House of Representatives to ensure timely passage of the proposed 2021 P4.5 trillion national budget despite issues surrounding the House Speakership and, most especially, amid the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, made the appeal after the launching today of the country’s 85th Malasakit Center at the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City.
“Kung sinuman ang magiging speaker, pakiusap lang po, dapat pumasa ang budget, ‘wag n’yo pong ipasa sa tao ang burden na magkaroon na naman tayo ng reenacted budget,” he said. (Whoever shall become the House Speaker, please pass the budget, Let us not be burdened when we have a re-enacted budget again.)
The Lower House is currently under a crisis over the sharing of pork barrel appropriations among House members and the leadership fight between Speaker Peter Alan S. Cayetano and Congressman Lord Allan Velasco.
“Kapag magkaroon tayo ng reenacted budget ngayong 2021, alam n’yo ang magsa-suffer ang mga Pilipino. Tandaan n’yo po ito, kapag hindi po naipasa ang budget, may COVID po tayo ngayon, at wala tayong budget sa 2021, magsa-suffer ang mga Pilipino, so challenge ko ‘yan kung sinuman ang Speaker,” Go reiterated. (Filipinos will suffer if we have a re-enacted budget in 2021. Remember, if we don’t have a budget passed this year… we are currently on a health crisis, Filipinos will suffer. That is my challenge to whoever will become the Speaker.)
“Ang importante sa akin, pumasa ang budget on time and even the President, ‘yun din po ang gusto niyang mangyari na ‘wag na pong magkaroon ng reenacted budget,” he added. (What is important to me is the budget be passed on time and even President Duterte does not want a re-enacted budget.)
Go stressed that the government might lose billions of pesos a day if a reenacted budget would be implemented.
He reminded that the proposed budget should be approved as soon as possible and should be finalized by December of this year.
This is to ensure that the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2021 can be immediately implemented next year, taking into consideration the necessary government priority programs and delivery of critical services needed to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, Go said.
“Dapat po by December, may budget na tayo at para po mapirmahan ng Presidente. At pagtuntong ng January 1, meron na tayong budget,” Go said. (The budget should be approved by December for signing by the President. We should have a budget on January 1.)
“Paano po pag wala ‘yung tulong para sa mga Pilipino? Paano sila? ‘Yung tulong ng mga agencies, tulong sa medical ng mga Pilipino, sa mga frontliners natin? Bakit hayaan natin silang magsa-suffer dahil di po magkaintindihan kung sino ang maging speaker?” the Senator lamented. (What will happen if there is no help for Filipinos? What help can agencies extend, what happens to the medical help, to the frontliners? Shall we let them suffer because there is a misunderstanding on who should be the Speaker?)
As for the issue on the speakership itself, Go declined to give comments.
“Alam mo, bilang isang senador, no comment na po ako dyan dahil andito kami sa Senado at hindi naman ako isa sa mga bumoboto ng Speaker. Karapatan po ‘yan ng bawat kongresista kung sino ang pipiliin nilang Speaker,” he said. (As a senator, I don’t have to comment on it. I don’t vote in the Lower House. It is the right of the congressmen to choose who shall be their Speaker.)
Go emphasized that President Duterte remained “true to his words” when he met both parties, specifically Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Congressman Lord Allan Velasco, as well as party leaders of the Lower House early this week to help sort out the leadership issue.
“Ang Presidente naman, true to his words. Pagdating ng panahon, ginawa lang ng Presidente ang kanyang pangako. Kung ano man gawin nila, no comment na ako dyan,” Go emphasized. (The President is true to his word. The President did what he promised. Whatever they do, I have no more comment.)