Rescheduling of OVP, DepEd budget debates 'unprofessional' – solon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 26) — An opposition lawmaker at the House of Representives called out the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and Department of Education (DepEd), both led by Vice President Sara Duterte, for their "unprofessional" last minute postponement of plenary debates on their proposed budgets for 2024.

"Two weeks ago pa po noong unang inanunsyo ang schedule ng pagdinig ng plenaryo ng Kamara sa budget. Wala pong ibang ahensya na sa araw mismo ay nagpabago ng schedule,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said. “Ano po kaya ang dahilan ng pagliban na ito? Pati ba naman ito confidential din?"

[Translation: It was two weeks ago when the schedule of the House's plenary hearing on the budget was first announced. No other agency postpones on the day of the hearing. What could be the reason for this absence? Is it also confidential?]

"Last minute cancellations with vague explanations in any context is unprofessional,” he added.

Manuel said the OVP and DepEd were apparently scared to face the public and give an explanation, especially about their confidential fund, as evidenced by the lack of a clear explanation for the postponement.

The House of Representatives moved the plenary discussions on the proposed 2024 budgets of the Duterte-led offices to Wednesday, Sept. 27, due to a possible conflict in schedule. This is also the last plenary session of Congress before it adjourns on Sept. 29. Session resumes on Nov. 6.

During Tuesday’s hearing, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro asked when the budget proposals of the OVP and DepEd would be tackled in the plenary.

House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin responded that committees on appropriations and on rules received information from the OVP and DepEd about a “possible conflict in schedule,” details of which she said she is still not aware of.

“As of the moment, the deliberation of the proposed budget of the OVP as well as the DepEd has been temporarily moved tomorrow considering that we also have other agencies in the pipeline,” Garin said.

The House aims to pass House Bill 8980 or the proposed General Appropriations Act on third and final reading on Wednesday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has issued a certification for the urgent passage of the proposed budget, which means the House can forego the three-day gap between the second and third reading for the approval of HB 8980.

CNN Philippines’ correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this story.