Andaya on 2019 national budget: House’s mission accomplished
MANILA, Philippines – The approval of the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget is now in the hands of the Senate after the House of Representatives had finalized it, House appropriations panel chairperson Rolando Andaya Jr. said Monday.
In a press conference, the Camarines Sur congressman and former Majority Leader presented four volumes or books of this year’s expenditure plan but said the details could only be released once the budget is signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We tend to send this to the Palace this afternoon and the copies for the Senate have already been sent,” Andaya said.
In a separate message, his office clarified that an advanced copy of the proposed bill will be sent to the Department of Budget and Management.
“Mission accomplished na kami,” he added, saying that their itemization of lump sum funds agreed during the bicameral conference committee was done “equitably” regardless of House members’ political affiliation.
The House leader also belied Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s claim that detailing the ratified General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is already unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund only prohibits the “post-enactment stage” tinkering or adjustments in the budget, according to Andaya.
READ: Sotto bares P79 billion realigned in 2019 national budget
“Yung detalye binibigay po ‘yan matapos mapirmahan ang bicam report… Ang bawal ho ay ‘yung makialam ang sino mang myembro ng Kongreso o Kongreso sa post-enactment stage of the budget execution,” the district congressman said explained.
“Napagkakamalan ho kasi ng iba once napiramahan yung bicam report ay hindi na raw pwedeng maglagay ng detalye dahil nga raw sa Supreme Court decision,” he added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier claimed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unlawfully funneled nearly P95 billion in infrastructure funds to the districts of her House allies after Congress had ratified the final version of the budget this year.
Congress ratified the 2019 spending bill last February 8 before it went on an election break.
Andaya said the House appropriations committee received the Senate’s itemized report of amendments on February 11.
“After both Houses have ratified the bicam that’s when the Senate and the House submitted their details… The Senate [submitted] it to the House appropriations committee and we’ll also furnish them a copy,” he said, explaining the post-ratification process of the proposed 2019 budget.
The itemization of appropriations they made, he added, were only within the amounts the Senate-House contingent agreed upon.
“There’s no way you can go outside that,” the lawmaker said.
Andaya also dismissed any possibility of continuing to operate under a 2018 reenacted budget if the Senate refuses to sign the GAB.
“I even don’t want to talk about that, ayokong pag-isipan ‘yan. Ginawa namin ang trabaho namin. Pinaghirapan namin ‘to. Medyo huli na tayo so siguro naman napapanahon na na ipasa natin ‘to,” he said.
When asked who should be blamed if Congress fails to pass the national budget, Andaya answered: “Definitely it’s not the House.” / gsg
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