Lacson urges Palace to ‘block’ special session for 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson appealed to Malacañang on Thursday to not “endorse” and even “block” the proposal to call a special session on the 2019 national budget.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said he would recommend to the President to call for a special session to approve the budget within the year.
But Lacson opposed the proposal, citing time constraints as Congress is scheduled to go on Christmas break starting this Thursday.
“This is just a very quick manifestation and I’d like to take advantage of the presence of Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea,” the senator said just before the Senate tackled on the floor the proposed budget of Office of the President (OP) next year.
“I would like to issue an appeal to him not to endorse the anticipated recommendation of Secretary of DBM Ben Diokno to call for a special session,” he added.
Lacson cited the proposed budgets of a number of agencies that the Senate has yet to deliberate on, including those of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of National Defense.
And even if the President calls for a special session, he said it was “impossible” for the Senate to pass the budget before the year ends.
“So I’d like to again reiterate of course with the concurrence of this body, I’d like to make that appeal. Quoting Jesus Christ: ‘the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,’ Mr. President,” Lacson said.
“Thank you Mr. President, and may we have the commitment of the Executive Secretary… that he will not endorse and he will block, as a matter of fact, Mr. President?”
Medialdea through Senator Sonny Angara who presented the OP’s budget, said he would relay Lacson’s appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also stood up to say that the Senate tried its best but said it would be “physically impossible” to approve the budget.
Even if the President calls for a special session, Zubiri expressed doubts that Congress could get a quorum.
He nevertheless promised to work on the approval of the budget as soon as Congress resumes its session on January 14.
On Zubiri’s motion, the Senate swiftly approved the proposed P6.7 billion budget of the OP. /cbb
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