Last Oct. 16, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for 2021. Yet as of today, it continues to tackle amendments via the so-called “small group.”
Art. VI, Sec. 26, Paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution is unequivocally clear, regardless of where the amendments will come from. Wala namang sinasabi ang Constitution na pag naghahabol ng “errata,” hindi ito applicable: “Upon the last reading of a bill, NO AMENDMENT THERETO SHALL BE ALLOWED, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.”
The claim of the House Appropriations Committee chair that the “errata” a.k.a. amendments will come from the implementing agencies and not from the individual House members will further muddle an already constitutionally infirm and error-filled budget measure. Why? The authorization part of the four-phase budget process is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, and the executive should deal only with budget preparation and execution.
No amount of technicalities and sweet-talk maneuvers can correct a flawed budget that is supposed to address the problems and concerns of more than 100 million Filipinos.
It is time that we correct the mindset of the so-called representatives of the people in this regard.