TWO leaders of the House of Representatives maintained that the 2019 budget was crafted in accordance with the Constitution.
In separate statements, both Majority Leader Fredenil Castro and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said they are supporting President Rodrigo Duterte whatever his decision would be on the budget.
President Duterte has deferred the signing of the 2019 budget because he wanted to review it further.
The president likewise threatened to veto it if he finds it problematic or questionable.
According to Castro, the House of Representatives, under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s leadership, has clearly defined its legislative agenda to be always in accord with and always in full support of President Duterte’s priority bills and programs.
“Amid downright intrigues and bizzare accusations, the HoR worked hard to enhance transparency and accountability in the 2019 GAB,” Castro said.
Castro pointed out that this move of the Lower Chamber is in sync with President Duterte’s strong and unflinching stance against corruption and wastage of public funds.
“The House of Representatives firmly supports President Digong’s action on the GAB. Tuloy ang trabaho. Tuloy ang paglilingkod. Tuloy ang pagbabago,” he added.
For his part, Suarez said that the budget was drafted and passed by the House according to long-established and duly constituted legislative processes.
“And we stand ready to address any concerns that the Palace may have in its review of the 2019 GAB,” he said.
House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said that if President Duterte eventually decides to adopt a reenacted budget throughout the year, that will give him an opportunity to restore more than P80 billion which was slashed by the Senate from allocations intended for the President’s projects.
The House of Representatives is confident that the Office of the President would consider its exposes in their review of the 2019 General Approriations Bill and find ways to restore the Senate budget cuts in the President’s veto message.
Andaya said they specifically appeal for the restoration of the items taken out of the 2019 GAB by the Senate including Department of Transportation - P5 billion for right-of-way projects; Department of Public Works and Highways - P 11.033 billion for right-of-way projects; Foreign Assisted Projects under DPWH - P2.5 billion; Tehnical Education and Skills Development Authority - P3 billion for scholarship of rebel returnees, out-of-school youths and rehabilitating drug dependents enrolled under the Universal Access to Tertiary Education: Department of Environment and Natural Resources - P2.254 billion for National Greening Program; Department of Foreign Affairs - P7.5 billion budget for SEA Games taken out, but P5 billion transferred to Philippine Sports Commission and P2.5 billion nowhere to be found; Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund - P13.4 billion and the Pension and Gratuity Fund - P39 billion.