Andaya: House only itemizing, not manipulating 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is only itemizing the appropriations under the ratified 2019 budget and not manipulating it, House Appropriations committee chairperson Rolando Andaya Jr. said Tuesday.
Andaya made the clarification in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s revelation that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly directed the realignments of P25 million budget from the Department of Health for her “favored” congressmen.
He said that the House is detailing the items in the budget to make it “more transparent and easy to scrutinize.”
“The House is itemizing the appropriations therein, fleshing out lump-sum funds, without departing from the approved specifications of the House-Senate approved budget, and by so doing make the budget more transparent and easy to scrutinize,” Andaya said in a statement.
“We believe that by detailing the items in the budget, by enumerating what will be funded, projects and programs, per agency and by district, will be clear and evident,” he added.
Andaya insisted that if the procedure of the House is “illegal,” then the Senate is “equally guilty” if it had also itemized the “pet amendments” on the senators’ budget, pointing out that the 2019 budget is a product of both chambers of Congress.
“If the procedure being undertaken by the House is illegal, then the Senate is equally guilty if on its part it had itemized the pet amendments on the budget by the senators,” he said.
He also pointed out that both the Senate President and Speaker are not directly involved in the bicameral committee discussion, which gives the responsibility to the members of the bicam committee.
Andaya then suggested that the House Appropriations committee together with the Senate Finance committee hold a joint press conference to bare amendments made under the ratified 2019 budget.
“To clear the air, I suggest that the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee hold a joint press conference to identify each and every amendment made in the 2019 GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Andaya said.
“After all, transparency and accountability is the name of the game,” he added.
The Senate and the House already ratified the 2019 budget last February 18, but it has yet to be transmitted to the President for signature. /gsg
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