Andaya resigns to head House bicam contingent

Rolando Andaya Jr.

MAJORITY Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. yesterday relinquished his post to head the powerful Committee on Appropriations.

“I am stepping down as Majority Leader today to assume the chairmanship of the Committee on Appropriations,” Andaya said in his speech at yesterday’s plenary session.

Capiz Rep. Fred Castro was installed as Majority Leader.

It was Andaya who nominated Castro to be the next Majority Leader.

Castro is one of the Deputy Speakers of the 17th Congress.

As the Majority Leader, Castro will also chair the House Rules committee.

According to Andaya, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has accepted his offer to relinquish the rules panel chairmanship and lead the contingent tasked to complete one major unfinished business left in the legislative calendar: the passage of the 2019 national budget.

With the passage of the budget bill in the Senate, the Bicameral Conference committee is set to begin its deliberation today.

Andaya is willing to head House panel in defending the budget during the bicam conference. The 2019 budget amounts to P3.767 trillion.

It was Andaya who disclosed insertions in the 2019 budget, amounting to P51 billion allegedly made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the watch of Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

“I have been given orders: from the GHQ to the frontlines. I volunteered for this mission, knowing fully well that the place of honor is in the frontlines.

I am leading the House team that will meet with our Senate counterparts in the bicameral conference committee to wrap up the 2019 General Appropriations Bill,” Andaya said.

“I must admit this is no easy task. The House Rules Committee, which I used to head, has uncovered anomalous allocations and questionable practices that marred the preparation of the 2019 National Expenditure Program by the Department of Budget and Management,” he added.

The sliding of Andaya to another committee belied rumors that it was Malacanang who wanted him out in the Majority Leader seat, saying he wanted to defend the budget and weed out the budget insertions.

“We are now confronted with two choices: Rubber-stamping the passage of a greatly-flawed budget on time, or using more time to craft a better one purged of its in-born defects.

If we choose the path of surrender and subservience, then such legislative haste would have surely led to budgetary waste,” Andaya stressed.