Arroyo liable for signing ‘falsified’ budget? Just go to court, says Panelo
MANILA, Philippines — “Why don’t they just go to the courts? Para magkaalaman na (So we can find out).”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this on Thursday when asked to comment on Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be charged for signing the “falsified” version of the proposed 2019 national budget.
The legislative branch is supposed to transmit the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, but “itemizations” in the lump sum portions of the budget caused further delays in the budget process.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III claimed that Congress made P79 billion worth of realignments in the ratified version of the budget while House appropriations committee chair Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr. claimed that the Senate realigned P75 billion.
“Kung sinasabi mong (If you are saying that it is ) unconstitutional, it behooves them to file appropriate charges against whomsoever has committed any violation of any law,” said Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel.
The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget after Congress failed to pass the P3.757-trillion 2019 budget on time.
The Palace official noted that though that there will be “delays” in basic services, the government is “prepared” to continuously operate under a reenacted budget as lawmakers failed to break the budget impasse even after a meeting with Duterte.
“The economic managers naman are prepared for that. The services, basic services will continue, magkakaroon lang ng delay (but there will be delay). Iyong sa fourth tranche naman ng mga teachers, nagawan na rin ng paraan iyon (Regarding the fourth tranche of [salary increases] for teachers, we can find a way),” he said. /ee