Sotto bares P79 billion realigned in 2019 national budget
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives seemed to have realigned some P79 billion under the ratified 2019 national budget, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Saturday.
Sotto cited the report from a Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO), which has been working with the House appropriations committee on the budget.
“It’s elaborate, but it’s there. My view is that, based on the LMBRO report sent to us, P79 billion has been moved that was not part of what was discussed in the bicam,” Sotto, speaking in Filipino, told AM radio station DWIZ.
Congress already ratified the almost P3.8 trillion 2019 budget last Feb. 8. However, until now, the budget has not been submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
According to Rolando Andaya Jr., House appropriations committee chairperson, the House was only itemizing the ratified budget and not manipulating it.
However, Sotto said the realignments were unconstitutional and that lawmakers might get charged for approving a budget with unconstitutional realignments.
“It is a violation of the Constitution,” Sotto said. “I don’t want to face a complaint after 2022 questioning why I certified a GAA [General Appropriations Act] that wasn’t correct.”
What was ratified, he added, was correct.
“But someone inside tinkered with it,” he said.
During Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s visit, Sotto said he talked with President Rodrigo Duterte about issues affecting the budget.
Sotto said he was confident that the President understood his stand on opposing realignments in the budget.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who had been revealing alleged anomalies in the budget, said the Senate backed Sotto’s stand against the budget.
“All the senators, both majority and minority, stand four square behind our Senate President for one simple reason: He is absolutely right,” Lacson wrote on Twitter. /atm
Senate office finds realignments in proposed 2019 national budget https://t.co/TQh2XsnZeM via @manilabulletin …. All the senators, both majority and minority stand four-square behind our Senate President for one simple reason – he is absolutely right.
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) March 9, 2019
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