Lacson warns Sotto vs signing enrolled copy of 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday said he warned Senate President Vicente Sotto III against signing the enrolled copy of the 2019 budget, which he alleged the House of Representatives has “manipulated” after ratification.
Lacson said the Senate would be “complicit” to the violation of legislative process and the Constitution should Sotto sign the enrolled copy of the bill.
“Ang advice ko kay Senate President Sotto sabi ko mahirap pirmahan yan bilang Senate President dahil in effect ang certify niya pag pinipirmahan niya, ito inaprubahan ng Senado sa plenaryo at House of Representatives sa plenaryo rin,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“Eh hindi yan ang inaprubahan kundi may pagbabago. So sabi ko magiging complicit ang Senado sa violation ng legislative process pati ng Constitution pag pinirmahan niya yan,” he added.
Lacson earlier claimed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had allegedly directed the realignments of P25 million budget from the Department of Health (DOH) for her “favored” congressmen.
He said the move violates the Constitution, which states that there should be no amendments made on a bill after it has been approved on final reading.
“Ang nangyayari rito, mas masahol pa kasi bicameral report na ang ni-ratify ng both houses, and yet may ginawa pang paggalaw o pag-amyenda. So malinaw na ito violation ng legislative process at ng Constitution,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. had denied the senator’s allegations, saying the House was only itemizing the budget to make it “more transparent and easy to scrutinize.”
Andaya also insisted that there was nothing unconstitutional, illegal or surprising in the House’s move to identify the Department of Health’s (DOH) 2019 budget.
However, Lacson said the items under the budget should have already been itemized, otherwise it would be a lump-sum fund which the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional.
“Sabi ni Representative Andaya hindi iniiba kundi ina-itemize. So ang susunod na tanong kung itemize, ang inaprubahan natin sa bicameral conference committee report ay lump sum?” the senator said.
“Bawal din yan. Sabi ng Supreme Court, hindi pwedeng lump-sum. Dapat itemized eh,” he added.
Congress ratified the 2019 budget on February 8.
However, the enrolled copy of the bill has yet to be signed by the leaders of both chambers of Congress after which it will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature. /jpv
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