DOTC can wait. Budget first, says Abaya
MANILA, Philippines - Not yet. The position of Cavite Rep Joseph Emilio Abaya as chairman of the powerful House appropriations committee is not up for grabs because of his new appointment as Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
"No, I was tasked to finish the budget up to 3rd reading. DOTC will wait. That is the instruction," Abaya told Rappler in a phone interview. Abaya will be replacing Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who will take over the post of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. (Both Abaya and Roxas were very close to Robredo.)
This means the earliest that Abaya could assume the DOTC post is October, based on the budget timetable.
DOTC sources disclosed that Undersecretary Rafael Santos will serve as Acting Secretary in the event that Abaya's appointment is confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments and the budget is not yet approved.
President Benigno Aquino III told reporters Friday, August 31, that Roxas and Abaya will have to be confirmed by the CA first before assuming their new positions.
Congress has the power of the purse. Government spending has to get the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
As chairman of the House appropriations committee, Abaya's task is to make sure that the lower House passes on time the P2.006-trillion budget that Malacañang submitted to Congress in July. His task includes accommodating or rejecting requests for funding from fellow members of the legislative chamber for their respective districts.
"I have to prioritize the budget," Abaya said.
Abaya is also the secretary-general of the President Aquino's Liberal Party (LP).
House to pass budget bill in October
Based on its schedule, the House of Representatives will finish committee deliberations on the budget bill next week. Abaya said they will submit it to the plenary by September 5, Wednesday.
The lower House will begin plenary delibrations on the budget bill on September 10 and hopes to put it to a vote on 2nd reading by September 20. That is before Congress takes a quick break - September 22 to October 7 - for the filing of certificates of candidacies (COCs). It is during the 2nd reading that representatives would be lobbying for funding for their projects.
Abaya said they will put the budget bill to a vote on 3rd and final reading by October 15.
How about bicam?
After it is approved on 3rd reading, they will transmit the budget bill to the Senate and wait for the bicameral conference committee, where the Senate and the House would consolidate their versions. The bicam is also important because it is where the more crucial amendments are usually inserted in the budget.
"Bicam? I think [that would be up to my] successor. I still have to clear that," Abaya said.
While there are no announcements yet on who will replace Abaya in the House committee, it is worth noting that the incumbent vice-chairman, first-term Quirino Rep Dakila Carlo Cua - is a new member of the LP. He took his oath early August. - Rappler.com