SENATE APPEALS TO PRRD NOT TO CALL FOR SPECIAL SESSION
MANILA — The Senate on Thursday appealed to Malacañang to persuade President Rodrigo Duterte not to call for a special session on the proposed 2019 national budget, saying it would still be impossible to pass the appropriation measure by yearend due to both physical and time constraints.
The request was made to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea during the plenary deliberation on the PHP6.773-billion proposed budget for the Office of the President and its attached agencies.
Senator Panfilo Lacson was first to make the appeal through a short manifestation.
“Mr. President, I’m not interpellating on the budget of the Office of the President (OP). This is just a very quick manifestation and I’d like to take advantage of the presence of Executive Secretary Medialdea,” he said.
“I would like to issue an appeal to him not to endorse the anticipated recommendation of Secretary of DBM (Department of Budget and Management) Ben Diokno to call for a special session,” Lacson said.
Diokno earlier said he would recommend to President Duterte to call a special session next week to finish the budget before the end of the year.
Congress will go on recess this week and would resume sessions on Jan. 14, 2019.
Lacson pointed out that after the OP, the Senate would still have to tackle the budget of several big agencies, which include the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health, the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
“Even if we extend our session for another five days, for another week, it is impossible, Mr. President, for us to enact the budget bill before the year ends,” he said.
“So I’d like to again reiterate, of course with the concurrence of this body, I’d like to make that appeal. Quoting Jesus Christ: ‘the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,’ Mr. President,” Lacson said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri backed Lacson’s manifestation.
Zubiri said the Senate is doing its best to finish the budget but the joint session on martial law has made it “physically impossible.”
“We just like to say to the Executive Secretary that we are doing our best to pass the budget. We work all week last week, until Friday, 10 p.m., and we have been working this week. But we lost a day because of the session on martial law declaration yesterday. So it is physically impossible,” he said.
Besides, the Majority Leader doubted if a quorum could be mustered by both chambers of Congress during the break.
“We tried our best. We can work the budget as soon as we get back on January 14,” Zubiri said.
Senator Sonny Angara, who was tasked to defend the OP budget, said Medialdea promised to relay the Senate’s appeal to the President.
After the hearing, Medialdea reiterated to reporters that he will relay the senators’ appeal to President Duterte. (PNA)
Photo by Edwin Bacasmas/Inquirer