SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco
End of Special Session
16 October 2020
My esteemed colleagues, Honorable Members of the 18th Congress, let me at the onset express my gratitude for responding to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to hold the Special Session for the purpose of ensuring the timely passage of the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2021.
Mabigat ang ating pinagdaanan bago tayo nakarating dito. Magkahalong pagsisikap at pananampalataya, tiwala at suporta ng bawat isa ang nagdala sa atin sa hantungang ito.
I commend you, my fellow representatives, that despite differences in viewpoints, we have proven to the Filipino people that we can actually work together and get things done. And that as a body, we recognize and uphold a common goal, which is the welfare of our country and people—and that we can set aside personal differences and be bound by shared and noble goals.
During this Special Session, we have reopened the plenary debates over the National Budget to further scrutinize the agency budgets and to thresh out issues relevant to each department and concerned sector. Within the four-day Special Session, we tackled the budget of major departments such as the Departments of Education (DepED), Health (DOH), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), National Defense (DND), Transportation (DOTr), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG). We have provided every representative the opportunity to raise issues, clarify any misconceptions, and recommend how we can make the Budget truly responsive to our current and pressing needs and conditions.
Annually, we go through this process of deliberating and passing the National Budget. But this expenditure program is no ordinary one. It is an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times. There is so much at stake here: our health, the economy, jobs and livelihood, food security, the education of our children, and much more. And we thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for taking a principled, decisive leadership in calling this special session so that the budget would get the complete attention that it deserves.
Mr. President, Mayor Sir, we present to you a budget for lives and livelihood. ITO ANG TUNAY NA BUDGET NG BAYAN.
We have to make hard choices. We work on limited resources when our needs appear to be limitless. Next year's budget of P4.5 trillion requires us to carefully strike a balance in providing the fiscal stimulus for economic recovery while containing the spread and mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
This pandemic has revealed to us the gaps and weaknesses in the way we do things in the public sector. It has highlighted the urgency of implementing long-postponed reforms such as the National ID System necessary for targeting public services, and the IT-support necessary to make government services fast and efficient through electronic and digital means. We realize that we need to appropriate funds to make our processes in delivering public services more effective and efficient.
I congratulate all House Members for their active involvement in the timely passage on Third and Final Reading of the General Appropriations Bill. But I assure you and the President that we will not have a re-enacted budget by January of next year. We will transmit without delay the approved Bill to the Senate and give our counterparts sufficient time to likewise examine the national budget.
Our task over the budget does not end with its passage. We will have to make sure that the programs are properly implemented, that public funds as appropriated do not go to waste.
At this juncture let me thank each and every one of you who has toiled long and hard for the successful passage of our budget – all the hardworking members of our very able Secretariat who ensured that Congress continued to function seamlessly despite the challenges that we successfully hurdled this week; our congressional staff who are behind us 24/7; the Members and staff of the Committee on Appropriations who know all the intricacies of every budget that this House has passed, and their Chair Eric Yap and all our Vice Chairs; our deputies and leaders in the Majority and the Minority who have steered the Committee on Rules and the proceedings here in plenary, headed by our Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Benny Abante, and the captain of the night shift, Rimpy “PUYAT” Bondoc na totoo namang puyat na puyat. And of course, our Deputy Speakers for presiding over four historical days and nights of this special session. Thank you to all of you.
I am proud and humbled by what I have experienced and witnessed this very eventful week. I may not be an extraordinary congressman, but I am a humble recipient of your overwhelming mandate and support.
I am proud of this General Appropriations Bill that we have passed on third reading today, which is truly reflective and responsive to the needs of our people. We have proven that playing by the rules, without resorting to shortcuts, and keeping our time-honored traditions and values, we can produce better and superior outputs.
I AM HUMBLED AND HEARTENED BY THE REALIZATION THAT NO ONE OR ANY GROUP HAS THE MONOPOLY OF KNOWLEDGE AND COMPETENCE. EVERY MEMBER OF THIS INSTITUTION HAS SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE AND DESERVES TO BE HEARD. THAT WE CAN DO BETTER BY LISTENING TO ONE ANOTHER AND WORKING TOGETHER, FOR OUR PEOPLE DESERVE NOTHING LESS.
Together, we can rise up again and build a better future for all Filipinos.
God bless us all at maraming, maraming Salamat sa inyong lahat. LAV ko kayo.