Senate ratifies P3.757-T national budget for 2019
Updated (8:13 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate finally ratified on Friday the almost P3.8-trillion national budget for 2019 allegedly tainted with “pork” insertions.
Fifteen senators voted to approve the budget while only five were against it.
The five who voted against the bill were Senators Panfilo Lacson, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros.
Drilon, Pangilinan, Aquino, and Hontiveros are opposition members while Lacson is part of the majority bloc.
Once ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the budget bill will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
Allegations of “pork” insertions stalled the immediate passage of the budget, prompting the government to operate under a reenacted budget since January this year.
Congress, which was set to go on break last Wednesday, had to extend its sessions until this Friday to approve the 2019 budget.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has repeatedly said lawmakers had inserted billions worth of “pork” in the budget.
Lacson’s allegation was later confirmed by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, chair of the House committee on appropriations, who claimed that the budget contained at least P75 billion “pork.”
Andaya claimed the amount was added by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) without the agency’s knowledge.
READ: Lawmakers keep P75-B pork in final spending bill
Andaya’s allegation was also confirmed by DPWH Secretary Mark Villar when the budget was being tackled at the Senate.
Villar said he only learned about the additional P75 billion at the DPWH when he saw the National Expenditure Program (NEP) or Malacanang’s budget proposal submitted to Congress annually for approval.
READ: Mark Villar denies knowledge of P75-B DPWH budget ‘insertions’
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