Duterte certifies appropriations bill as urgent

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SPEAKER Pantaleon D. Alvarez — PHILSTAR

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has certified as urgent the P3.767-trillion 2018 budget, which is currently being debated at the House.

In a letter signed by Mr. Duterte addressed to Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, he said: “I hereby certify the necessity of the immediate enactment of House Bill 6215, titled An Act Appropriating Funds for the Operation of Government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1 to December 31, 2018.”

This means that Congress may approve the bill on second and final reading on the same day, bypassing the legislative rule where approval on final reading needs to be granted by each chamber of Congress at a three-day interval after the approval on second reading.

“In order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year, to expedite the funding of various programs, projects and activities for fiscal year 2018, and to ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its Constitutional mandate,” the President added.

However, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas said legislators can only approve the 2018 budget that day on second reading.

“We will only approve it on second reading tonight and on third reading when it will already be printed with all the amendments, which will take a week or two,” he told reporters in a mobile phone message.

Next year’s budget is about 12.4% more than the P3.35-trillion budget for 2017.

The government is ramping up spending on major infrastructure and social services projects in a bid to bring gross domestic product growth to seven to 8% from next year to 2022, from a projected 6.5-7.5% this year. In 2016, growth was 6.9%.

This is the second measure certified by Mr. Duterte as urgent, with the first one being House Bill No. 5636 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration or Inclusion Act — which was approved by the House of Representatives two days after the certification. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan