SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has no intention of slashing President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget a House of Representative leader said following the House’s failure to begin plenary deliberations on the outlay Monday.
This was stressed in a press conference by House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., adding what Arroyo wants is to ensure that funds are allocated to support the priority programs of President Duterte.
“There is no slash to be talked about. The President’s budget in terms of aggregate amount is intact and the Speaker has no intention to reduce that amount of budget as presented, let’s make that clear,” Andaya, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, told reporters.
“Marami kasing insinuation na babawasan iyung budget at makukulangan ang serbisyo ng goberno, uulitin ko po wala pong balak ang ating Speaker na bawasan po ang ating budget. Ang nais lamang pong gawin ay i-align po sa polisiya ng ating Pangulo,” Andaya added.
Session adjourned 4:45 in the afternoon without plenary budget deliberations.
Andaya also denied that Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles will be replaced as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations due to alleged intramurals in the allocation of funds.
Well-placed sources said Andaya and Nograles exchanged heated words during the nine in the morning majority caucus yesterday after he and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly asked the latter to sign the supposed other version of the budget bill.
Sources said the House leadership rejected the budget version containing the alleged P55 billion funds purportedly allocated to some select lawmakers.
Sources said there were two versions of the national budget, one that was prepared by Nograles allegedly with P55 billion and the other one purportedly prepared by the House leadership without P55 billion.
Apparently trying to help Nograles in arguing his position, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte and Andaya also engaged in a verbal tussle. The two have internal political bickering in Camarines Sur.
During the caucus, Nograles insisted that Palace officials have been calling him not to remove the P55 billion, sources said.
Sources said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea went to the House of Representatives and appealed to the leadership for a status quo to avert controversies.
It was learned from sources that the districts of more than 40 lawmakers suffered budgetary cuts as an offshoot of the alleged P55-billion funds that were set aside.
But the camp of Arroyo and Andaya, according to sources, argued that the budgetary reduction in more than 40 districts should be restored because basic services for many people will be jeopardized by these cuts.
“I understand the position of Cong. Nograles if Malacanang officials are pushing for the restoration of funds (P55-billion). But Speaker Arroyo and Majority Leader Andaya are also doing their job, which is to ensure fair distribution of funds to other districts,” sources said.
In a statement, Nograles said he is prepared to vacate his post if somebody wants it.
“If anybody wants to remove me as chair of the committee on appropriations, then they can have the position. This budget is for the needs of our people,” said Nograles.
Andaya said the House leadership is committed to pass the national budget on third and final reading before its scheduled adjournment on October 13, 2018.
“The House leadership has made a commitment to wrap up the deliberations on the proposed budget before the October break. Hopefully, we can pass the General Appropriations Bill in the House of Representatives before October 13,” Andaya said.