Belmonte tries texting to muster quorum

TO ensure a quorum, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has ordered a texting campaign targeting the 290 members of the Lower House of Congress to convince them to attend the two-week marathon plenary deliberations on the proposed P3.002-trillion General Appropriations Bill.

“A text brigade has been set up to remind our colleagues to attend the remaining sessions in the next two weeks,” he said.

He called on the lawmakers for their cooperation to approve the national budget for 2016.

The House should muster a quorum during the two-week plenary debates to approve the budget on second reading.

Belmonte said he is confident of passing the 2016 budget before the House of Representatives goes on recess on Oct. 10, two days before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2016 national and local elections.

Congress has been gripped by a lack of quorum in the past weeks, which has jeopardized the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

But Belmonte continued to reject the imposition of sanctions on absentee lawmakers.

After going on recess on Oct. 10, Congress will resume sessions on Nov. 3. The remaining sessions of the year will continue until Dec. 16.

Majoriy Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II also urged his colleagues to take part in the budget deliberations.

“Let us attend sessions in the next two weeks to fulfill our legislative duties, especially in the approval of the national budget for 2016,” he said.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, also appealed to his fellow legislators to do their job of scrutinizing the proposed budget.

“I would like to encourage our colleagues to actively participate in the deliberations. There will be free and full debates,” he said.

The 2016 proposed national budget is 15.2 percent higher than the P2.606 trillion budget for 2015.

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