House leaders back Canda

August 14, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 242 views

HOUSE leaders have expressed trust and confidence to the leadership of Budget Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda who was designated by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte as the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda also assured that the House of Representatives will pass the 2022 national budget without delay despite the resignation of former Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado from his post due to medical reasons.

“Usec. Tina Rose Marie Canda is qualified and is doing a great job handling the responsibility as the OIC, not to mention her unquestionable track record,” Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.

Earlier, Avisado went on medical leave from August 2 to 13 after he was afflicted with coronavirus diosease-19 (COVID-19) and had to undergo a series of examinations.

“But regardless of who will be appointed to lead the DBM, I am very confident that the 2022 budget deliberations will be smooth as far as coordinating with the DBM is concerned and it will be passed on time with the able support of our colleagues in Congress,” Yap who was surprised on the resignation of Avisado whom he claimed had “done an excellent job in the DBM.”

While saddened by the resignation of Avisado, Velasco said he understands that health must take the highest priority especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wish to assure the public that this development will not affect the upcoming budget deliberations in Congress. We trust that the Department of Budget and Management led by its officer-in-charge, Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda, will carry on the task and continue its work on the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP),” Velasco said.

“The House of Representatives eagerly awaits the submission of the NEP so we can start the deliberations on the 2022 national budget and pass it on time, much like we did last year,” Velasco added as he wished Avisado well and hoped “that this will allow him more time to take care of himself and be with his family.”

For his part, Salceda, a vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said the resignation of Avisado will “pose no risk to the early passage of the 2022 national budget, as Congress continues to work well with the budget department and its Officer in Charge.”

“To address the most important issue with this resignation, we assure you that this will not hamper the early passage of the 2022 budget.

The Speaker and the entire House leadership is committed to fast-tracking the General Appropriations Act in view of the pressing economic circumstances,” Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said.

Salceda said that discussions on the 2021 national budget and a possible Bayanihan 3 are “going strong and well as if no leadership change has taken place.”

“It’s proof that the general direction has already been laid out by Secretary Avisado before he left. I wish him the very best and a smooth recovery,” Salceda added.

“In fact, we continue to have discussions with both the Budget Department and other Executive departments on the 2022 GAA. Just yesterday (Friday), I had a meeting with Agriculture Secretary William Dar on the way forward with funding agriculture after a meeting with the full economic managers’ team yesterday,” Salceda said.

“From our perspective, the Budget Department is functioning with very little if any disruption. The DBM bureaucracy is very strong. Just this week, we have had talks with the economic managers, including DBM Officer-in-Charge Tina Rose Canda, to discuss what we could do to fund a possible Bayanihan 3. We discussed this in view of the need for possible ayuda, other health interventions such as genome sequencing and additional testing, and more recently, the need to augment healthcare personnel,” Salceda explained.

“Next week, we’ll have a meeting to see how we can fund this bill. The first meeting was open and very productive. Offhand, it seems that we will need to realign from the 2021 budget. That’s fine, it appears that we still need the power to realign anyway, with all the ECQs being declared and requiring ayuda. The government can’t just keep on declaring savings, and the dividends will also run out at some point,” Salceda said.

“The way I think we will move with Bayanihan 3, particularly on ayuda, healthcare interventions, and other key priorities. But it must also have some degree of flexibility in terms of the power of the President to realign funds, should any of the priorities need more money, and the others need less,” Salceda said.

“That was a feature that should have been included in Bayanihan 2, so that you did not have agencies short of resources, while a few items were not at all touched. We could have used those untouched items to augment the others,” Salceda added.

“So, Bayanihan 3 can carry an overall price tag, but the itemization can be a bit more dynamic, with priority towards ayuda and healthcare response, of course,” Salceda concluded.