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Benitez in bicameral conference committee

          Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has named Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez among the 21-member contingent to the bicameral conference committee on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

          Velasco said the House contingent will make sure the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte before the year ends.

          “We have to make sure the GAB lands on President Duterte’s desk for his signature before the year ends to prevent a reenacted spending program that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said.

          The contingent, led by Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, will represent the lower chamber to the bicam panel tasked to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 7727 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2021.

          Also part of the contingent, according to Velasco, are Minority leader Stephen Joseph Paduano and independent lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

          Yap will be joined by his vice-chairs Deputy Speakers Salvador “Doy” Leachon and Mikee Romero and 16 members from the majority, namely, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit, Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison.

          Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Assistant Majority Leader Kristine Singson-Meehan, Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno, Deputy Speaker Jose “Lito” Atienza, Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian.

          The designation of the House contingent was in anticipation of the Senate approval of the 2021 GAB.

          Speaker Velasco earlier said the ratification of the 2021 national budget was high on the House agenda.

          He said the record-high budget is the government’s “single-most powerful tool” to fight Covid-19 and help the economy and the people recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

          Just recently, Velasco said the House will seek an increase of at least P5 billion in the 2021 calamity fund for the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent strong typhoons.*GPB

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