House ready to take hard stance to defend version of nat’l budget
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday said the House of Representatives is inclined to take a “hard stance” in defending its version of the 2018 national budget, even if it would mean having a reenacted budget next year.
“Kami sa House of Representatives, napag-usapan namin na mag-hard stance kami dito, dahil kung ano yung napag-usapan namin, at inaprubahan doon sa House of Representatives, ‘yun ay ang gusto naming mangyari,” Alvarez said in a radio interview.
(We, at the House of Representatives, discussed that we would be taking a hard stance here, because whatever we have tackled and approved at the House of Representatives, that is what we expect to happen.)
Alvarez said the House lawmakers would not only yield to the “demands of some senators.”
The House leader stressed that if the two sides cannot agree on the contentious issues before Congress adjourns on Dec. 13, it could be possible that the government may operate next year on a reenacted 2017 budget.
“Ngayon, kung hindi kami magkasundo doon, ay magre-enact na lang tayo ng budget noong nakaraan. Tabla-tabla na lang,” Alvarez said.
Among the disagreeing points between the House and Senate’s version of the budget was the P50 billion cut from the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the realignment of P900 million for the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-drug campaign to military and police personnel’s housing program.
It was Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, who proposed that the DPWH’s budget be reduced by P50 billion due to unresolved right-of-way issues. This was vehemently opposed by some senators and House representatives.
On Thursday, members of the Senate and House convened in a bicameral conference committee. The committee split into two groups to settle the contentious items in the budget.
The lawmakers assured that they will finish the deliberations and iron out the disagreeing provisions before the Congress takes a Christmas break on Dec. 13.
Alvarez, nevertheless, said that a reenacted budget would actually be advantageous to the Executive Department because it can then use the funds for the purposes it may deem necessary.
“Kasi puwede nilang i-program kung ano ang gusto nila,” Alvarez explained. /jpv