With 2019 budget deadlock, House convenes into committee of the whole

Mara Cepeda

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With 2019 budget deadlock, House convenes into committee of the whole
The House of Representatives convenes itself into a committee of the whole after the House leadership discovers around P50 billion worth of 'misplaced' funds distributed to several districts

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has convened itself into a committee of the whole in an apparent bid to address the deadlock in the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.

At past 4:20 pm on Tuesday, September 18, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya made a motion at the plenary to convene the House into a committee of the whole that would take jurisdiction of House Bill (HB) No. 8169 or the 2019 General Appopriations Act of 2019.

In his motion, Andaya acknowledged that HB 8169, as contained in Committee Report No. 854 prepared by the committee on appropriations, was referred to the committee on rules on September 11.

“Madame Speaker, upon the authority granted to the Majority Leader by the committee on rules to act on House Bill No. 8169, and pursuant to Rule 18, Section 137 of the Rules of the House, I move that the  House be constituted into the committee of the whole in order for the House to consider to House Bill 8169,” said Andaya.

No lawmakers objected to the motion. This now means that the committee of the whole, chaired by Andaya, had jurisdiction over HB 8169. The proceedings were ongoing as of posting time.

According to the House rules, the House may constitute itself into a committee on the whole to act upon a bill or resolution. Only the Majority Leader may make the motion. 

“When the House constitutes itself into a Committee of the Whole, it functions as one committee acting upon a bill or resolution, and conducting its proceedings like a regular committee with its membership composed of all the Members of the House,” said the House rules.

The committee of the whole was convened after the House leadership discovered around P50 billion worth of “misplaced” funds distributed to several districts, with several lawmakers reportedly getting shares ranging from P1 billion to more than P4 billion. 

Sources said the money was allegedly inserted when the 2019 budget was being prepared during the time of ousted speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Alvarez and Nograles both denied the allegation.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants the “misplaced” funds reviewed and if proven anomalous, realigned to other items in the 2019 budget that need the additional funding.

Sources said the House leadership had wanted to replace Nograles in the appropriations panel over the alleged P50-billion insertion issue.

A shouting match had even erupted among Andaya, Nograles, and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte when the appropriations panel met to discuss the 2019 budget on Monday morning, Sepember 17. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.