THE chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations yesterday assured the public that the P3.757-trillion national budget will be signed into law by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte this March as he denied the reported House-initiated changes to the appropriation bill.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., who chairs the panel, dismissed as baseless the statement of outgoing Budget Secretary and incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno that changes were made in the national budget.
“No changes in the national budget. Nothing illegal and unconstitutional,” said Andaya although he admitted that there was a P15-billion lump sum fund in the national budget to boost the Universal Health Care Law.
“Before the end of March tapos na ang national budget, mapipirmahan na ni Presidente ito,” said Andaya who claimed that the House of Representatives is prepared to print the national budget for submission to the Palace this March 11 or 12 had it not been for the request of the Senate to hold the printing.
Andaya said the House of Representatives got P4.5 billion while the Senate has P2 billion and the Department of Health (DoH) got P8.5 billion out of the P15 billion allocation for health care.
He said the House of Representatives has already distributed the P4.5 billion to lawmakers for their constituents when they itemized the amount and the beneficiaries for transparency and compliance with the Supreme Court ruling against lump sum appropriations. “Nothing that the House did which the Senate did not do,” said Andaya.
Andaya also said that the inquiry into Diokno’s P75-billion insertions and questionable budget practices could be continued “some other time” and “by some other people.”