Sotto nixes more meetings with House on 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said the Senate will no longer agree to a meeting with the House of Representatives regarding the issues plaguing the still-pending 2019 budget.
“Hindi na siguro,” Sotto told reporters when asked if the Senate would agree should the House calls for a clarificatory meeting regarding the 2019 budget.
“We will just wait for their final decision,” he added.
Sotto said the Senate is already confused with the conflicting reports of members of the House on the supposed recall of its version of the 2019 budget.
Withdrawal claims, denials
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier claimed that the House has agreed to recall its version of the budget.
He said the decision was relayed to him by San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who confirmed to the media Lacson’s claim.
This was debunked, however, by House appropriations committee chairperson Rolando Andaya Jr., who pointed out that recalling the enrolled copy of the bill must be done in plenary session.
This was further supported by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who said that the House has not withdrawn its version of the 2019 budget and they are currently “in discussions about what is the proposed new version.”
“Nalilito na kami. Ano ba talaga? So we’ll just wait for them to make up their minds once and for all,” Sotto said.
No to House version
Sotto said the Senate will “stand firm” on its decision against the House version of the bill.
“Basta we stand firm to what we have already said and what we have decided and that is we cannot agree to something that is violative of Article 170 of Revised Penal Code which is falsification of legislative documents,” he said.
“Kung ano yung ni-ratify namin, kung ano yung pinasa namin, ‘yun dapat ang ipadala sa Presidente,” Sotto stressed.
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 said the House’s move is unconstitutional because 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.
Sotto said a reenacted budget until August is likely if the House has not made a decision on whether they would withdraw their version of the bill or not until May or June.
“If they do not withdraw, and revert back to the original ratified version nila, then it’s going to be in August,” the Senate President said.
“Siguro by June. By May 20, kung wala pa rin silang action no’n, wala na talaga,” he added. / gsg
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.