House withdrawing its version of 2019 budget – Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — The leadership of the House of Representatives (HOR) has agreed to recall its version of the 2019 national budget, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Monday.
Lacson said the decision of the House leadership was relayed to him by San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who confirmed to media the senator’s disclosure.
The House, according to Zamora, would recall its version of the budget bill within the day.
“Yesterday he (Zamora) gave me a call and he said meron nang approval ang HOR leadership na ire-recall nila today,” Lacson said in an interview in Taguig City.
“And it bears watching if they will really withdraw their version of the enrolled bill today. And then from there, we will move forward,” he said.
The House has already transmitted to the Senate its version of the budget bill even after it was already ratified by both chambers last February 8.
But the Senate described the House’s move as unconstitutional, saying no changes could be made after a bill was already ratified by Congress.
The House leadership argued they had to itemize the ratified budget because it supposedly contained lump sums from the Senate.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stood by the House version of the budget bill.
She said the House would never put the President “in a position of signing an unconstitutional bill.”
If the House version is recalled, Lacson said, Congress could then transmit the ratified budget bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.
And it would then be up to the President to veto the “unconstitutional” lump sums, the senator added.
“So, pag na-veto yan, we go back and discuss among ourselves: Saan dadalhin ang vetoed amount na lump sum,” he said.
“And depending on how fast we can reconcile kung saan dadalhin ang lump sum appropriations na ive-veto ng Presidente, we can request the President to call for a special session even for one day and via a joint resolution mag-pass kami ng supplemental budget to discuss or include the vetoed lump sum appropriations.”
“I’m willing to close one eye to the reality na talagang hindi papayag ang mga congressmen na walang pork. But it is not to a point na sobra-sobra ang iba to the disadvantage of their own colleagues all 62 of them, na tinanggalan nila,” Lacson added.
But if the House would not withdraw its version of the budget bill, Lacson said there would be no budget until August or until there is a change in the House leadership.
Arroyo’s term as representative of the second district of Pampanga will expire this coming June. The new Congress with a new set of members will convene in July.
The government will continue to operate based on the 2018 budget unless the new appropriation is transmitted to the President for his signature. /cbb
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