The “power of the purse” belongs to the House of Representatives, and for this reason the lower chamber has embarked on a mission to pass the P5.268-trillion proposed national budget for 2023 on or before Oct. 1 this year.

The per agency budget deliberations on the 2023 spending plan–easily the most tedious part of the budget process–began in earnest on Aug. 30.

With the first week of the budget process already in the books, here are the three most intriguing highlights from the various House Committee on Appropriations hearings during the week that was:

1. Pagcor doesn’t know what to do with e-sabong

So far, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) doesn’t know how to move forward with the e-sabong (online cockfighting) situation under the current administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

This was admitted by Pagcor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alejandro Tengco to Hose members last Aug. 30.

“I have had [neither] the chance to discuss the matter with the members of the board nor have I also discussed the matter with our president, President Marcos. So, I can’t make a categorical answer as of today,” Tengco said.

The previous Duterte administration ordered a halt to all e-sabong operations last May following a series of disappearances of individuals linked to the operations.

The betting industry surrounding e-sabong is a source of livelihood to many Filipinos, making the issue layered and complicated.

2. 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero’s mysterious tirade

1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero appeared to have slagged off somebody when he made a surprise manifestation during the budget deliberation of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) last Sept. 2.

Usually a mild-mannered and quiet solon, Romero congratulated Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles for doing a “better job”. Better than who, he didn’t mention.

He added that–thanks to the Angeles’s commendable performance–“epal” or nosy people have thankfully been expunged. It remains to be seen if Romero will flesh out these comments in the coming days.

3. 7-minute budget hearing for OP

The appropriations panel typically conduct marathon hearings during the per agency budget deliberations. However, the “discussion” on for proposed budget of the Office of the President (OP) took only seven minutes, making it the fastest to be terminated or concluded so far.

“By tradition descending from parliamentary courtesy to a co-equal branch in government, I move to terminate the budget briefing of the Office of the President,” motioned Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe during the OP hearing last Sept. 2.

At that point, none of the congressmen, not even those from the minority bloc, had asked the question to the OP panel led by Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez. Rodriguez wasn’t even able to deliver his budget presentation.

At the end of the day, the Malacañang panel was merely allowed to go back to their normal tasks since the “termination” doesn’t equate to approval of its budget, anyway. This will come much later in the budget process.

Source: Manila Bulletin (