The House of Representatives on Wednesday, November 25, named a 21-member contingent to the bicameral conference committee on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021, which includes two representatives from Negros Occidental.
The two are Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod).
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, in a House of Representatives press release, said the House contingent will make sure the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte before the year ends.
“We have to make sure the GAB lands on President Duterte’s desk for his signature before the year ends to prevent a reenacted spending program that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said.
The contingent, led by Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, will represent the lower chamber to the bicam panel tasked to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 7727 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2021.
Aside from Benitez and Paduano, Yap will be joined by his vice-chairs Deputy Speakers Salvador “Doy” Leachon and Mikee Romero and 16 members from the majority, namely, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit, Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison;
Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Assistant Majority Leader Kristine Singson-Meehan, Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno, Deputy Speaker Jose “Lito” Atienza, Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian.
Also part of the contingent are Paduano and independent lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
The designation of the House contingent was in anticipation of the Senate approval of the 2021 GAB.
Velasco earlier said the ratification of the 2021 national budget was high on the House agenda.
He said the record-high budget is the government’s “single-most powerful tool” to fight COVID-19 and help the economy and the people recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.
The House will seek an increase of at least P5 billion in the 2021 calamity fund for the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent strong typhoons, he added.*