Senators split on re-enacted budget
MANILA, Philippines — Senators are divided over Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s proposal to have a reenacted budget this year.
The government is presently operating under the 2018 national budget as Congress has yet to approve this year’s appropriation.
But with left and right allegations of “pork” insertions in the budget, Sotto is now proposing that the Senate withdraw its approved budget and just adopt the 2018 appropriation.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said she would “take into consideration” Sotto’s proposal when the Senate and the House of Representatives meet in a conference this Wednesday afternoon.
“The technical staff of both Houses have finished going through the disagreeing provisions of the GAB ( General Appropriations Bill) and its Senate version. We originally intended to go through each provision and corresponding recommendation line-by-line,” Legarda said in a statement.
“However, upon consultation with the Senate leadership and with the Executive Department, I will take into consideration the statement of Senate President Sotto, as I lead the Senate panel in meeting with our House counterpart later today,” she added.
Senators Sonny Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who both belong to the majority bloc, said they would support the decision of the Senate leadership.
“I will support the leadership decision as a member of the majority,” Angara said in a text message.
“I think SP was getting frustrated with the developments at the bicam given the limited time to pass the budget,” he said.
Pimentel said he would support the Senate leadership as he trusts Sotto’s “good judgment.”
Sotto’s proposal also got the backing of Senator Panfilo Lacson, another majority member.
While he is also part of the majority bloc, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto warned that a reenacted budget would stall the growth of the economy.
“A reenacted budget will not be good for job creation and will stall the growth of the economy. ‘Build, Build, Build’ will suffer,” Recto said in another text message.
Opposition Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan rejected a reenacted budget.
“I am against a reenacted budget,” Drilon said.
For his part, Pangilinan said: “We do not support having a reenacted budget. That gives the Executive Department a blank check in an election year.” /ee
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