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Lagman: 2021 budget debate ‘sacrificed at altar of House squabble’

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Tuesday asked Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to reconsider his twin motions that led to the “abrupt termination” of the plenary debates on the budget and its “premature” approval on second reading.

“There is an urgent need for Cayetano to reconsider his precipitate motions to terminate the budget proceedings and approve the GAB on second reading, and immediately resume sessions,” the lawmaker said.

He said Cayetano’s twin motions are unprecedented in the history of the House of Representatives.

“The plenary scrutiny on the national budget has been sacrificed to the altar of the on-going House leadership squabble,” Lagman said.

He said the proposed budgets of fourteen major departments, including their attached agencies, have not been deliberated and/or completed.

These are: Department of Social Welfare and Development; Department of Agrarian Reform; Department of Transportation; Department of Education; Department of Information and Communications Technology; Department of Tourism;

Department of Health; Department of Public Works and Highways; Presidential Communications Operations Office; Department of Foreign Affairs; (11) Department of Budget and Management; Department of Energy; Department of Interior and Local Government; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Also pending for deliberations are the proposed budgets of the constitutional offices like the Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit and the Civil Service Commission, together with the Commission on Human Rights.

Even the proposed appropriations for all the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) have not been debated upon, including other executive offices like the Commission on Higher Education, the Climate Change Commission and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and many others.

“The provisions on cloture and closure of debates have been indiscriminately invoked even as the proposed budgets of numerous departments, offices and agencies have not been taken up,” Lagman said.