RE: H.B. NO. 3408 (2O17 GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL)
I seek recognition not to oppose the motion to approve on third reading House Bill No. 3408 or the 2017 General Appropriations Bill. I rise to manifest my reservations on the validity of approving on third reading the 2017 GAB based on the President’s message for its immediate enactment pursuant to Section 26 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution:
“No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form had been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity and emergency.”
I have grave reservations on the compliance of the President’s certification on the immediate enactment of the 2017 GAB pursuant to Section 26 (2) of Article VI for the following reasons:
1. Both the letter dated 11 October 2016 of President Duterte and the letter also dated 11 October 2016 of Executive Secretary Medialdea, addressed to Speaker Alvarez, did not mention any public calamity or emergency necessitating the immediate enactment of HB No. 3408 or the GAB. Absent such reference to a public calamity or emergency, the condition provided for by the Constitution is not complied with.
2. What the letter of President Duterte mentioned justifying the immediate enactment of the 2017 GAB are: (a) “in order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year”; (2) “to expedite funding of various programs, projects and activities for FY 2017”; and (c) “to ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate”.
The aforesaid reasons are not compliant with the condition imposed by the Constitution on the “need to meet a public calamity or emergency”.
Moreover, the reasons are contingent on the end of fiscal year 2016 and the start of fiscal year 2017, which are more than two months from now.
3. While the distribution of copies of the printed bill in its final form is dispensed with, when there is a valid certification of urgency, there must at least be a showing that the third reading copy is complete with the incorporation of the amendments to the GAB by the “small committee”. No such showing has been made so far on the final version for third reading.
For all the foregoing reasons, I have grave reservations on approving on third reading House Bill No. 3408 or the 2017 General Appropriations Bill.