Belmonte vows to fast track supplemental budget

By Sammy F. Martin & Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 21 (PNA) — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday vowed to fast track approval of the proposed supplemental budget that would give additional funding for the relief and rehabilitation of provinces devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda”.

“It is not enough (that the priority development assistance fund) to be realigned… Kailangan magkaroon ng supplemental budget and we are 100 percent for that supplemental budget,” said Belmonte in a press conference.

The Speaker said they are targeting either Monday or Tuesday of next week to file the proposed supplemental budget hoping to pass it the soonest possible time.

Belmonte urged Malacanang to prepare the certification of the availability of funds since the Legislative Branch had already waived it, referring to the second tranche of this year’s PDAF, which was declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

“Since time is of the essence because the year is ending, the efficacy of those funds is one year under the current 2013 budget so it is necessary to act fast. So I actually asked (Budget and Management) Secretary (Florencio) Abad to please rush those two documents and we will also fast track the movement of the supplemental budget in the House of Representatives,” he noted.

Belmonte said the Lower Chamber is targeting to pass the proposed supplemental budget before the Christmas break, “otherwise it is a useless exercise, parang nagpapogi lang kami.”

“What we want is a real help to the people,” he stressed.

The Speaker said the proposed measure does not need to pass the bicameral conference committee.

“We will agree on the wording already and leave it to them (senators) whatever we file because it’s not a question of us agreeing to what they file because kami talaga ang kailangang mag-file dito,” he said.

“Whatever we file, we will see to it that it is already acceptable to them. The moment it is approved here (House of Representatives), it can be also approved there (Senate). And the reason of certification is to do away with some of the processes — for speedy action,” he noted.

The Speaker hopes there won’t be any need to call for a special session on the proposed supplemental budget.

But, he said if the Lower Chamber won’t be able to complete it before the Christmas break, “I’m open to having a special session.”

“That is so much concern, I aim na matapos namin ito so the funds can be obligated before the end of the year,” he said. (PNA)