Villafuerte withdrew 2020 budget bill to make ‘insertions’ — Ungab
MANILA, Philippines — When House Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Ray Villafuerte ordered the withdrawal of the bill for the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, it was because he wanted to make changes to the bill.
This was revealed by House appropriations committee chairperson Isidro Ungab on Monday amid reports of the withdrawal of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) from the House plenary last August 28.
Ungab insisted that any changes to the GAB, which is basically a copy of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Executive department, is an “insertion.”
“Masyadong nakikialam itong si Deputy Speaker (Villafuerte), na gusto niya na magbago yung GAB, babaguhin yung GAB which is wrong. He withdrew, because he wanted to change the GAB,” Ungab told reporters in an interview.
“Nag-instruction siya sa amin, nag-instruction siya sa mga appropriations staff na babaguhin ‘yung GAB which I think is wrong. May instruction siya, may ihahabol daw sila… Insertion talaga itong gagawin kung gagalawin yung GAB,” he added.
House Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte earlier said he withdrew the GAB from the plenary last August 28 after it was filed on first reading by the appropriations committee on the same day.
Villafuerte reasoned that the bill was “prematurely” filed as government agencies were still presenting their budget proposals to the chamber.
Ungab warned that changes to the GAB could lead to the delay of its approval, as the House appropriations committee would have to conduct another set of budget hearings.
He said the GAB is currently being printed and that copies were supposed to be delivered on Monday and distributed immediately to the members of the House of Representatives.
The appropriations committee is also set to end its budget deliberations by Friday and prepare its committee report by next week. The budget was aimed to be heard at the House plenary by September 12.
“Kung uulitin ‘yung procedure, kung babaguhin ‘yung GAB, masisira talaga ‘yung schedule,” he said.
Amendments to the bill should be done during the period of amendments, he added.
“If you’re going to touch the GAB, it will be interpreted as mangling, altering the budget of the Executive that was submitted to us,” the Davao City 3rd District representative said.
“During the period of amendments, you amend, but not this time because you will be interpreted as doing hanky panky, doing something wrong,” he added.
Should Villafuerte insist in changing the GAB, Ungab said it will “not be acceptable.”
“I don’t think the public will accept it. I don’t think the committee will accept it because if you file a new GAB, you will conduct another set of hearings so delayed na talaga,” he said.
“This conflict can only be resolved if we re-file the same GAB that I filed because there is no more time,” Ungab added. /je