The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution expressing support for the administration’s 2022-2028 medium-term fiscal framework (MTFF).
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3, which was sponsored by Senate finance committee chairperson Sonny Angara on the floor, was filed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, and Majority Leader Joel Villanueva.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel voted against the resolution, saying it is tantamount to "wholesale surrender" to the administration's legislative agenda. Fellow opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, abstained from voting.
According to the resolution, the administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. designed the 2022 to 2028 MTFF to attain short-term macro-fiscal stability while remaining supportive of the economic recovery and promoting medium-term fiscal sustainability.
With its adoption, both chambers of Congress committed that the legislative agenda shall be guided by the following targets set in the 2022-2028 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework:
- 6.5% to 7.5% real GDP growth in 2022; 6.5 to 8% real GDP growth annually between 2023 to 2028
- 9% (i.e., single digit) poverty rate by 2028
- 3% national government deficit to GDP ratio by 2028
- less than 60% national government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025
- at least $4,256 income per capita attainment of upper middle-income status
The measure also expressed support to the macroeconomic objectives of the MTFF and the economic managers' proposed strategies to continue implementing "risk-managed interventions in areas of food security, transport and logistics, energy, fiscal management, health, education, social protection, and bureaucratic efficiency."
The government will also ensure the "unimpeded and adequate delivery of social services, mitigate inflation pressures, accelerate economic recovery, and address economic scarring,"
In explaining his No vote, Pimentel said the resolution will be a “binding document” on Congress as it will entail a “wholesale surrender” to the government’s legislative measures such as the budget modernization bill, imposition of value-added tax on digital service providers, taxation of income generated by online content creators, imposition of excise tax on single-use plastic and government pension reform bills, among others.
“Voting in favor of this concurrent resolution is the complete antithesis to my role as minority leader. To commit myself to the contents of the resolution, and the attached MTFF is to abdicate my parliamentary duty to fiscalize and check the validity of proposals and ideas on the floor of the Senate on a case-to-case basis,” he said.
Further, the veteran lawmaker said he believes the resolution is “replete with formal and procedural inaccuracies” and is violative of the rules of the Senate.
“The subject resolution is replete with formal and procedural inaccuracies. Procedures follow form and form follows the context. However, this rule was inadequately observed in Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3,” Pimentel said.
“It’s my position that this measure should not have followed the procedure for concurrent resolution and that the legislative work should have started at the committee level and not in plenary,” he added.
Pimentel continued, "If the legislative form is inaccurate, the legislative procedure follows this wrong and therefore the result arrived at is defective. I have learned from my participation in international conferences that form is as important as substance. Procedure is as important as substance,” he said.
“The rules of the Senate, I must stress, must be treated with due regard and utmost respect,” he added.—LDF, GMA News