Right on schedule, plenary deliberations on the national government’s proposed budget for 2023 are underway at the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, September 20, the House began discussing the 2023 National Expenditure Program after committee-level deliberations concluded last week.
But just as the arguably more rigorous part of legislative scrutiny on the budget begins, two senior leaders of the chambers – who are also relatives of the President – are out of the country.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who represents the 1st District of Leyte, and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, who represents the 1st District of Ilocos Norte, are both part of the delegation accompanying President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to his working visit in New York City.
Speaker Romualdez is the first cousin of President Marcos, while Representative Marcos is the President’s eldest son and a neophyte in the House.
Passing the budget on time – or at least by a deadline that’s usually self-imposed – is both the jobs of senior House leadership and key members of the majority and the appropriations committee.
In the case of the 19th Congress, it’s AKO BICOL Representative Elizalde Co and Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo – appropriations committee chairman and vice chairperson, respectively – who’ve been spearheading efforts to ensure that the Marcos supermajority meets its self-imposed deadline of passing the budget by September 30.
According to House records, however, attendance during the roll call was at 310, meaning only one House member was absent officially. The House continues to implement a hybrid set-up, wherein legislators may participate in deliberations either in person or virtually.
Speaker Romualdez, on September 19 in New York, joined his cousin in meetings with Boeing, WasteFuel, and nuclear power company NuScale. Both Speaker Romualdez and Representative Marcos also joined the President in ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange the same day. The Speaker also joined the President at the United Nations General Assembly general debate.
They aren’t the only Romualdezes and Marcoses who are in the US as part of the official delegation. First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos is also part of the official group. Romualdez’s uncle, Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, is also part of President Marcos’ entourage as Philippine ambassador to the US. – Rapper.com