House approves DILG budget without cuts

The House committee on appropriations   on Thursday   approved the proposed P124.1-billion budget  of the Department of Interior and Local Government  without cuts.

The panel, headed by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, terminated the budget hearing without even subjecting newly appointed Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento to questions from the lawmakers about the agency’s projects and performance.

Sarmiento officially assumed office last week as the new DILG chief after resigned secretary Manuel Roxas II had relinquished his post to pursue his presidential ambition in 2016.

At the sidelines of the hearing, Sarmiento said his resignation as a House member will become official once he has taken his oath as a Cabinet member.

“As soon as I take my oath [as DILG secretary], that means I am automatically resigned as a [House member],” Sarmiento told reporters.

Sarmiento earlier filed his leave of absence from the ruling Liberal Party as its secretary general to avoid any political color in performing his duties and functions as the agency’s head.

Not even the opposition objected to the motion of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to adjourn the DILG budget briefing before Sarmiento was introduced to present the agency’s proposed budget for 2016.

“It’s been our tradition to dispense with the budget briefing of a new member of the Cabinet. We support our former colleague,” Rodriguez said.  

“We’re confident he will lead the DILG with utmost dedication, loyalty and integrity. He deserves our support so we should give this day to honor him,” Rodriguez added.

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, an administration ally and member of the panel, agreed to Rodriguez’s motion provided that the committee will hold a pre-plenary meeting for the agency’s budget before the 2016 General Appropriations Act will be referred to the plenary for further scrutiny.

The DILG’s budget briefing lasted for less than 30 minutes.

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