No consensus yet on 2019 budget despite meeting with Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Congressional leaders failed to reach a consensus on the 2019 national budget even after meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Tuesday night.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said, though, that the House of Representatives (HOR) “appeared” to have agreed with Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s proposal to restore the ratified version of the budget.
The House reportedly made some realignments in the budget despite its ratification by both chambers last Feb. 8.
“The President wanted to resolve the impasse. He opened the dialogue by saying he will not sign the budget if I do not sign it,” Sotto told reporters in a Viber message.
After some words from senators and representatives present in the meeting, he said, Lacson suggested that the House recall the enrolled copy they had sent to the Senate and revert back to the ratified version of the budget bill.
“The President and members of the executive department concurred. HOR appeared to have acquiesced but we have yet to see if they will follow the agreement,” Sotto said.
During the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the President asked the congressional leaders to pass the budget “so that the programs of government can continue.”
Zubiri said the Senate suggested to just pass the ratified version of the budget measure, but the House insisted on the line-by-line itemization of the budget and not by lump sum.
“We still met while the President had left but there’s still no consensus, unfortunately,” he said.
Other senators present at the meeting were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Loren Legarda and Gringo Honasan.
From the House, present were Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya Jr., among others. /atm
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