House clarifies "pompous" SONA expenses

July 15, 2009 9:15 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, July 15 — The House of Representatives on Wednesday clarified it is spending about P2.1 million for the preparations for the coming State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on July 27, contrary to reports that it is spending P22 million, which critics qualified it as pompous and most extravagant SONA in Philippine history.

"This is a yearly constitutional mandate for the President to report to the Filipino people on the national government's accomplishments, current and new programs for the coming year through the SONA before a joint session of Congress," said House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap.

Under the Constitution, Congress is the policy-making branch of government. It is the national forum for public debates on all issues that concern public interest.

The Executive Department, through the President, executes these policies and laws passed by Congress.

The President also proposes policies which need the concurrence of Congress.

Yap said the reported P22-million allocation for the President's SONA is "an unintentional miss-appreciation of facts."

Last year, some P1.9 million was spent for the SONA.

Reports said the House had been undergoing repairs at the cost of P20 million allegedly in preparation for the SONA and another P2 million for food, SONA kit, identification cards, security, etc.

"The renovation within the Batasan complex is a continuing program and implemented mostly when Congress is in recess, not when Congress is in session. The program is just coincidental to the President's SONA," Yap clarified.

"It's not fair to lump the two activities together just to come up with what reports say as pompous and extravagant spending," she said.

Relative to the funds for office rentals of the additional party-list representatives who, at the moment could not be accommodated within the premises of the Batasan Complex, Yap said, "we have to follow a constitutional mandate promulgated by the Supreme Court."

She explained the renovation is being done to prevent a more costly physical depreciation within the complex and make the House of the People reflective of the dignity of the Filipino nation.

"Sooner or later, critics will themselves appreciate our efforts to make the Halls of the People, the center of national policy debates, an iconic symbol of the Nation. Congress, after all, is the crucible of ideas that mold the dominant will and sentiments of the people," she said. (PNA)

LDV/LGI

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