MANILA - In one of the shortest budget hearings in Congress, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved without opposition a P20-billion budget that President Rodrigo Duterte’s office is asking for 2017.
This, after Albay Rep. Joey Salceda of the majority bloc asked fellow congressmen to forego questions after the budget pitch of the Office of the President (OP) as a matter of courtesy.
Minority bloc's Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, for his part, vowed to throw "many questions" against the OP's proposal during the plenary deliberations for the 2017 national budget.
The House plenary is expected to tackle the proposed national budget next week.
The OP is seeking P19.9 billion in new appropriations for 2017. The proposed budget, however, will reach P20.03 billion if all obligations were factored in.
Out of the proposed budget, P15.4 billion will be allocated to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) golden anniversary which the Philippines will host in 2017.
From the ASEAN funds, P11.07 billion will go to the OP, P749M million to Tourism, P1.4 billion to the Presidential Communications Office, P177 million to Trade and Industry, and P2 billion to the Interior and Local Government.
Apart from these, Duterte's office is also asking for:
- P2.5 billion in confidential and intelligence funds
- P2.2 billion for travel expenses
- P1.3 billion for communication expenses
- P2.1 billion for Professional Services; and
- P7.5 billion for representation expenses.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who led the OP in its budget presentation, declined to talk to the media after the committee hearing.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Marciano Paynor, head of the ASEAN Golden Anniversary National Organizing Committee, assured lawmakers that OP's proposed budget will suffice for expenses in hosting the ASEAN anniversary.
"Barring unforeseen events, yes, we will make do with the budget as presented," Paynor said.
The House is dominated by allies of the President.
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