The plenary deliberations on the 2019 proposed budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office was held in abeyance midnight Tuesday for its officials to defend its own budget request, and due to the absence of Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna and France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list moved to suspend the consideration of PCOO’s budget.
The plenary debates on the PCOO budget has yet to resume as of press time Tuesday.
PCOO proposes a P1.474-billion under the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019. The PCOO budget proposal for next year is higher by P39.434 million allocated for this year.
Parañaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez, the sponsor of the PCOO budget, Uson “is currently out of the country.”
Reports said that Uson is currently attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
“Asec Uson had been absent during committee deliberations last Sept. 6. Now, she is absent again. This should have been the right opportunity for us to ask questions from her. With that Mr. Speaker, I move to defer the budget of PCOO proper,” Castro moved.
PCOO officials led by Secretary Martin Andanar, along with the undersecretaries, have all attended the plenary deliberations.
Despite the presence of Andanar and his cohorts, lawmakers were disappointed that the Palace officials could not answer questions on their proposed 2019 budget.
“We are all here because we all know that the budget of the PCOO is important. This is the information arm of President [Rodrigo] Duterte. I have a lot of questions for Asec Uson. Can I please know why the Asec is not around?” Castro asked Olivarez.
The marathon budget hearing was adjourned at almost three in the morning Tuesday.