Zubiri seeks Palace intervention to end budget row
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri urged Malacañang on Wednesday to “exert pressure” on the House of Representatives to finally end the impasse on the 2019 national budget.
The Senate and the House leaderships had already met with President Rodrigo Duterte but failed to reach a consensus on the budget.
“We really have to pass the budget. It’s no joke anymore,” Zubiri said in an interview at the Senate.
“We’re appealing to our colleagues in the House of Representatives na ibalik na natin yung naipasa natin, yung na-ratify natin para mapirmahan na ng Senado at mapadala na kay Pangulo,” he said.
Last February, the Senate and the House ratified the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
But the House amended the ratified bill supposedly to itemize the alleged unconstitutional lump sump appropriations by the Senate. The amended GAB was later transmitted to the upper chamber for signature.
But the Senate leadership refused to sign the House version of GAB, saying the amendments made after the ratification of the measure were unconstitutional.
Zubiri also believed that the realignments by the House were “irregular.”
“So I will appeal to Malacañang to exert pressure on our colleagues in the House of Representatives to just return to the version approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives…,” he said.
“This is the President’s budget. Naka hostage ang budget nya wala naman kaming kasalanan. Wala namang kasalanan yung Senado. We’re willing to sign with our own blood the approved bicam version pero yung kanila ay naiba.”
He said Malacañang can call for another meeting with the Senate and the House leaderships to break the deadlock.
“And I’ll ask Malacañang to already give the orders,” the Majority Leader said.
Zubiri said Malacañang might ask the Senate, for instance, to sign the House version but with the assurance that the President would veto the changes made by the lower chamber.
The other option, he said, is to revert to the original version, which was ratified by both the Senate and the House. /jpv
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