MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday expressed confidence that lawmakers, especially those who are seeking reelection, will prevent a reenacted budget for 2022.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, when quizzed if he thinks the ongoing word war between President Rodrigo Duterte and other senators criticizing the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response efforts would lead to a reenacted budget next year.
“I don’t think so. Let’s talk about brass politics. It’s not to the welfare of reelectionist congressmen and senators to have a [reenacted] budget,” Roque said.
In his prerecorded Talk to the People aired late Tuesday night, Duterte slammed the senators who allegedly threatened to slash the 2022 budgets of government agencies and departments whose heads and officials skipped the Senate inquiries into the purchase of Covid-19 emergency supplies.
Roque said it is unlikely that the government will operate under a reenacted budget next year, adding that solons who formalized their reelection bid will push for the passage of the 2022 spending plan.
“Let’s face it. They have personal stakes in that budget and they will have to pass it because they need all the resources that they can get for the elections. And I want you to read between the lines,” he said. “So, the first people who would want to see it passed will be the senators, given that there is quite a number of them either running for election or running for a higher office.”
Roque also said lawmakers seeking reelection cannot afford to take the blame, in case the proposed PHP5.024-trllion national budget for 2022 fails to be passed on time.
‘There’s a public reaction. I don’t think Congress can take adverse public opinion, if they resort to politicking as an excuse not to pass a Covid-related budget. Of course, we are relying on the budget next year also to deal with the ongoing pandemic,” he said.
The House of Representatives aims to submit to the Senate the proposed 2022 national budget by Oct. 27 so Duterte can sign the bill by December.
Roque expressed optimism that Congress will exhaust all efforts to pass the proposed 2022 budget.
“If they’re not able to pass it on time, the fault will lie on Congress and not on the President. So, I think again, because of my theory of auto-limitation, they will do everything to pass it,” Roque said.
The proposed 2022 General Appropriations Act is 11.5 percent higher than this year’s PHP4.506 trillion.
The budget plan is guided by a strategy supported by three main pillars – Building Resilience amidst the Pandemic; Sustaining the Momentum towards Recovery; and Continuing the Legacy of Infrastructure Development. (PNA)