Sotto: Modified budget bill contains P96B House realignments
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has uncovered P96 billion realignments allegedly made by the House of Representatives even after the ratification of the 2019 national budget.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the realignments were reported by the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) after scrutinizing the printed copy of the budget bill transmitted by the House.
“Oo maliwanag dito sa nakikita ng LBRMO, Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office, maliwanag na nagalaw…”Sotto said in an interview over DZMM on Wednesday
“Vi-net ng mga Cabinet secretaries ito tapos biglang ililipat sa districts? So yun ang mabigat at ito ay ginawa after ratification. Kung ginawa nila ito bago mag bicam wala silang maririnig sa amin,” he said.
When asked in a text message if the LBRMO was able to confirm the realignments earlier pegged at P79 billion, the Senate leader said: “Mas Malaki pa.”
Sotto said “P96 billion,” when pressed about the total realignments reported to him by the LBRMO.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier claimed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had realigned close to P95 billion to districts of her allies in the House even after the ratification of the final version of the budget bill.
But House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya countered Lacson’s claim and accused the Senate of making its own amendments to the ratified budget bill.
During the meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday night, the Senate asked the House to recall the modified budget bill and restore it to its original version.
Sotto insisted that he would not sign the budget bill with House amendments as it would violate the Revised Penal Code and the Constitution.
“Bakit isusubo ako, at isusubo nyo ang Speaker ninyo na pipirma, na iva-violate namin ang Revised Penal Code at saka Consitution. Siguradong may magdedemanda sa amin nyan in the future. Bakit susubo natin doon?” he said in the radio interview.
“Ibig sabihin, I will certify that it’s correct? Why will I sign it if I can’t certify that it’s correct?”
During the meeting, Sotto said the President and other Cabinet members agreed with the Senate’s stand.
And the House, he said, also seemed to agree to the Senate’s proposal to return to the original version of the budget bill but they have yet to see whether the lower chamber would recall the modified version. /muf
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.