THE House of Representatives yesterday forwarded to the Senate the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
According to Deputy Speaker and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which realigned P9.5 billion in the National Expenditure Programs, was printed and formally transmitted to the upper chamber yesterday morning.
“This will allow the Senate to include the GAB on first reading for referral tip their finance committee, which in turn and liberate on it during the break,” Gonzales said in a statement.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sonny Angara confirmed that the upper chamber had received the GAB for 2020.
“Our finance subcommittees are completing the hearings on the proposed budgets of the last few agencies,” Angara said.
Angara said during their break on October 4 up to November 3, they will be consolidating all of the submissions into the committee report.
“Once we resume sessions, we will be ready to sponsor the bill in plenary,” Angara assured.
The senator promised that the Senate will work overtime to approve the top priority legislation so that the measure will be with the President for signing before the end of the year.
Gonzales reiterated that the House approved on final reading a pork-free and parking-free budget.
He said the senators would now be able to scrutinize for themselves the proposed budget.
“Again and again, we contend that it is a pork-free budget as we strictly confined ourselves to the decision of the Supreme Court which declared pork barrel unconstitutional. And prohibited post-enactment identification of projects,” he assured.
Earlier, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano rejected as “mere rumor” Senator Panfilo Lacson’s allegation that the House planned to allocate additional P1.5 billion in funds to each of its 22 deputy speakers and P700 million to its 300 members.
“Anyone of the senators tell me where the pork is, I’ll sit down with you and let’s discuss it. I’ll tell you who’s guilty and who’s innocent. But if people give us rumors and say ‘my sources,’ how do you respond to that?” the Speaker said.
“But we in the House will not allow another delay in the budget, so let’s not compare what happened during the leadership of the previous speaker. Despite the tenuous speakership fight, we are united here,” he added.
Meanwhile the House clarified that there was no P456-million cut in the proposed budget of the Philippine General Hospital for 2020 as claimed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
House public accounts committee chair and Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said the lower house in fact even augmented PGH’s budget by P500 million in its institutional amendments on the GAB.
“There was no such cut in the budget of PGH made by Congress. What I know is we even increased the budget of PGH,” he said in a weekly media forum.