House vows to pass P4.1-T gov’t budget by Sept. 20 | Inquirer News

House vows to pass P4.1-T gov’t budget by Sept. 20

/ 05:14 AM September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is set to approve the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget on September 20 with minimal changes, just a month after it was submitted by Malacañang.

Save for institutional amendments for education, health and military camps, there would be no other changes in the proposed budget, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee.

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“The rest, they are the same, except for these three. Same comma, same semicolon, same capital,” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

No pork inserted

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Salceda also said there were no new insertions in this budget and no “pork” as defined by the Supreme Court and struck down as unconstitutional, but House members’ districts would get P100 million in projects.

According to him, the projects proposed by lawmakers were not pork since these were included in the budget by the executive departments, and all these were itemized.

The departments also have their own rules about projects to include in their budgets, and there was tension between them over which programs to fund, he added.

“Of course there are allocations for my constituents. Who determined it? The executive,” he said.

Asked about this looking similar to the pork barrel system of the past, he said “it also smells, acts, quacks like the need of my constituents, and it also smells, acts, quacks as if it’s allowed by the Supreme Court.”

‘Working supercoalition’

According to Salceda, the impending House approval of the budget bill this month showed that the Duterte supercoalition in the House is working.

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This would be the earliest House approval in history, he said. It was no longer a “grind,” but a “Bicol express,” he added.

“We hope the so-called Duterte supercoalition in the Senate would do the same,” he said.

He noted that last year, the Senate had questioned the insertions of the House members.

The House would not even form a “small group” to handle the individual amendments of House members, because there are none.

Challenge to Senate

“I’m posing it as a challenge to the Senate. We don’t have individual amendments. They should not have institutional amendments,” he added.

Last year, the House and Senate had tussled over amendments introduced by the House after the ratification of the bicameral report, leading to the delay in the approval of the 2019 budget.

As a result, the country operated on a reenacted budget for the first few months of the year.

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TAGS: 2020 national budget, House of Representatives, Joey Salceda
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