Sotto: A reenacted budget will erase all ‘pork’
MANILA, Philippines —President Rodrigo Duterte will have Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto’s support should the Chief Executive decides to veto the entire P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019.
“Actually, if there is indeed pork barrel in the budget, a reenacted budget erases all that,” Sotto said in a statement on Friday.
“Everything is left to (the) discretion of the executive (department). I will support the President’s decision, anyway, we can pass a new one in the next Congress with new leaders,” Sotto added.
The Senate leader said vetoing the entire budget was his original decision after learning about the House of Representatives’ alleged “illegal realignments.”
Sotto said House leaders, whose terms will end in June and were involved in the “illegal realignments, were “difficult” as they feared losing their “pork.”
Sotto first raised the idea of vetoing the entire budget after House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya accused the Senate of having its own realignments even after the budget was ratified.
“If there is even an iota of truth to that, then I will ask the President to veto the entire budget and we can pass a supplemental budget in the 18th Congress sans pork!” he said last week.
Senate Minority Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, recognized the President’s power and prerogative to veto the entire budget “if he is of the opinion that the budget bill is unconstitutional, or does not support his program of government.”
“That is how our system is outlined in the Constitution–the President has the final say,” Drilon said in a separate statement.
Even without a budget, Senator Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III said the country will still “survive” a year by operating under the previous year’s budget.
Since January, the government is operating based on last year’s budget as Congress failed to approve this year’s appropriation before end of 2018.
“Vetoing this year’s entire budget can also be the executive’s way of saying to congress to “get your act together,” Pimentel said in a text message. /muf
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