House ratifies 2014 budget
Manila, Philippines – The House of Representatives ratified yesterday the P2.264-trillion 2014 national budget six days after it was approved by the bicameral conference committee in a meeting that was opened to the public for the first time.
Deputy Speaker Rep. Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya put the bicam report on House Bill No. 2630 or the 2014 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to a vote in the plenary wherein the “aye” votes overwhelmed the “nay” votes.
The national budget will take effect on January 1, 2014 after it is signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., in a chance interview, said that the budget is scheduled to be signed Friday, December 20. He highlighted the Act as yet another budget that will have been passed on time under the Aquino administration.
“What’s important is, it is signed so that it becomes effective by January 1. And it will be, like the three other budgets of the 15th Congress, all three were approved on time so that they became effective on January 1,” Belmonte said.
Earlier in the Monday session, 253 congressmen answered the roll, constituting a declaration of a quorum. This led to a motion from acting Majority Floor Leader Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo I of the 2nd District of Valenzuela City to have the bicam report approved by House members.
A Makabayan solon, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, stood up and manifested if he could ask clarificatory questions on the report before it is subjected to approval.
The session was suspended for five minutes, after which the majority ruled against the request of Colmenares.
“We are insisting on our earlier motion to ratify the bicameral conference committee report considering that our rules do not accommodate any period for interpolation on any bicameral conference committee report,” Gunigundo said.
Sustaining the Valenzuela solon’s observation, the Deputy Speaker went on to the divide the House.
Colmenares, in a subsequent manifestation, said his clarification was supposed to center only on what was the final figure of the then-unratified budget, noting discrepancies between the House and Senate notes.
“Apparently the majority does not even want to answer a basic question,” said the militant lawmaker who belongs to the Minority.