House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Wednesday that national unity and collective effort are the keys to the attainment of the country’s development vision for the next decade.
“We must look beyond our own terms. Our people’s confidence in us and support will spell the difference,” Belmonte said, expressing optimism that the goals laid down during the President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) “are not impossible to attain.”
Revealing the maturity and statesmanship that tempers his leadership, Belmonte once again foresees the “reasonable fiscalization or critical collaboration” of the minority members of Congress.
“We need to have an opposition in the House. If we are to have a strong democracy, then we should always listen to and encourage the voice of an intelligent opposition. The voice of each member of the House is important,” the Speaker stressed as he likewise lauded the consistent hard work and cooperation by members of the ruling majority as personified by the Deputy Speakers, the Majority leader, and the chairmen of the different standing and special committees, among others.
Belmonte also vowed to work closely with the Senate leadership and its committees for the passage of the 220 national and 550 local bills approved by the House on third reading.
At the same time, the House leader reiterated that the passage of the proposed P2.006-trillion 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which the President calls an empowerment budget, is now the first priority of the House of Representatives.
“I am very confident that, like last year, the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, will again pour all its energy in scrutinizing every fiscal provision of the proposed GAA and defend it in plenary in due time. We will work intensively on it for the next few months in the hope of again finishing by year end,” Belmonte said, a day after the Palace, through Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, formally submitted to the House the proposed 2013 national outlay.
The House leader also clarified that while the Abaya committee is busy deliberating on the different aspects of the budget, the plenary will also have the time to consider pending vital bills that need to be passed in support of the government’s short and long-term reform development programs.
“Our working program does not prejudice the workings of the other House committees which are equally exerting their full efforts in considering other numerous socio-economic measures affecting our various constituencies,” he pointed out.
Abaya, for his part, said that it has now become a “tradition” to have the budget completed and approved by year-end with no re-enacted budget.