Duterte urged to issue decisive order on 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte should issue a “strong pronouncement” to break the budget impasse and compel Congress to pass the proposed P3.8 trillion 2019 national budget immediately, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said Wednesday.
“Sa tignin ko ang pag-asa dyan pag sinabihan sila ng Presidente submit nyo, ako exercise ko ‘yung power ko to veto kung merong unconstitutional dyan,” Garbin said during the weekly minority briefing at the House of Representatives.
The party-list lawmaker suspects that the Chief Executive has not done so out of respect to the independence and lawmaking power of both houses of Congress.
“Pero sa tingin ko the President will call and make a strong pronouncement,” he added.
Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez backed Garbin’s proposal.
“Palagay ko, at the end of the day, mapipilitan na siyang (Duterte) mag-aksyon dito dahil di pwede itong ganitong katagal,” he said.
Garbin also warned that senators who are blocking the passage of the budget bill were “arrogating upon themselves… the power to veto.”
“If they claim that it is unconstitutional for the House to itemize some of provisions for programs… the President has this reserved power to veto line items which he sees to be unconstitutional, eh bakit naman nila ipe-preempt ‘yung power ng Presidente,” he said.
Suarez also said Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate finance committee, told him that she wanted to sign the national budget, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson had been objecting.
“‘Yung chairman ng finance committee ng Senado, I talked to Senator Loren two days ago, as a matter of fact, I’m going to see her tomorrow, in-assure niya ako na gustung-gusto na niyang pirmahan ito at ‘yun din ang sentiment ng nakararaming myembro ng Senado. Ang problema nga lang siguro ay ‘yung kanilang respeto sa isa’t isa,” Suarez said.
“‘Yun ang sabi sa akin, nahihirapan siyang kumbinsihin ‘yung dalawa (Sotto and Lacson),” he added.
The House leader also suspects that the Senate’s opposition to the spending bill was triggered by some congressmen’s complaint about them getting lower funding, as well as political party alliances.
Garbin also said a Supreme Court decision had declared lump-sum appropriations as unconstitutional.
But when asked why the House ratified the budget bill with lump-sums and why they did not itemize before ratification, Suarez answered vaguely: “We’re expecting them (Senate) to do the same na magi-identify din sila.”
“Pero as I’ve said you have to read between the lines, ang problema talaga dyan ‘yung mga nagsumbong sa kanila (senators) na mga kasamahan nilang congressman o kapartido na nabawasan sila,” Suarez added.
On Feb. 8, 2019, the House and Senate ratified the proposed budget that had lump sums, which Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now describes as “unconstitutional.”
The country will continue to operate under the 2018 reenacted budget unless the Senate approves the budget bill that the House transmitted.
Senators have been pushing to retain the ratified version of the spending bill with lump-sum appropriations, while the House contingent wants the budget that they itemized after it was ratified by both chambers. /gsg
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