THE HOUSE of Representatives maintained its decision to hold the “Question Hour” on Tuesday and declined Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno’s postponement request.
“We stand firm on out intention to hold the Question Hour as scheduled and look forward on your appearance,” Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. of the 1st district of Camarines Sur said in a letter to Mr. Diokno on Monday.
The budget chief, in a letter dated Dec. 7, asked the chamber to “reschedule at a later date” to allow the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to prepare a response to queries of the legislators.
“The additional time requested will enable the DBM to gather the necessary information and undertake coordination with the other agencies concerned,” Mr. Diokno said.
The Budget secretary was summoned upon the adoption of House Resolution No. 23, introduced by House Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez of the 3rd district of Quezon, which sought to clarify the insertions in the National Expenditure Program.
Moreover, Mr. Andaya, in his privilege speech on Monday, countered DBM’s claim that a reenacted budget will result in economic slowdown.
“Let me remind everyone, that anyone who believes that a reenacted budget will result into economic slowdown, specifically in the first and second quarter as routinely announced by our Secretary of Budget… that’s a lot of hot air coming from his rear end. That is not true. Any person who believes that does not know his history,” he said.
Mr. Andaya recalled that in 2007, the country experienced a significant economic growth despite the budget bill’s late enactment on March 22.
“First quarter, we had 6.9% growth and the second quarter, a mind-boggling 8.3% growth for the second quarter,” Mr. Andaya said.
With Congress scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 12, the likelihood of a reenacted budget increases, considering the Senate is still in the process of tackling the General Appropriations Bill.
Meanwhile, despite its support for the chamber’s move to summon Mr. Diokno, Malacañang said the House, likewise, has to make some explanations.
“Well, you know the position of the Palace is that, that’s a different branch. Now they have to do their job. And I understand from what I read on the papers today that Budget Secretary Diokno has been invited to explain. So we leave it at that. We’ll see,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing on Monday.
When asked about President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s position, Mr. Panelo said “his position is—I was talking to you when I say—he said that there will be some explanation on the part of Speaker (Gloria Macapagal-)Arroyo and others. So let’s hear them.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan