Duterte turns down Lacson proposal

Rodrigo Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has rejected the proposal of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to retain the lump sum appropriations in the 2019 national budget and just allow the President to itemize the projects, a House leader said yesterday.

House Majority Floor Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said President Duterte made the rejection when he met Senate and House leaders Tuesday night’s at Malacañang to break the impasse of 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.

“[Camarines Sur] Rep. Nonoy Andaya (who is the chairman of the House committee on appropriations) expressed reservation as this would be unconstitutional. This proposal of Senator Lacson did not sit well with the President because, quoting the President, he does not want to be involved in allocating projects,” Castro told reporters.

“Instead, the President suggested to the members of both chambers to just finish the budget in a manner they are comfortable. Members of both chambers signified to the President that they will follow his suggestion so that in a few days’ time, the budget is finalized,” said Castro.

House Deputy Minority Leader and COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo, a member of the bicameral conference committee on the national budget, challenged Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III to exercise transparency by ordering his colleagues to itemize and give the breakdown of their alleged P75-billion “post-bicam realignment” under the 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.

Bravo said it would not look good if Sotto ignores his transparency theme which he declared when he assumed the Senate leadership.

“They (senators) should also show transparency and honesty from their end,” said Bravo, lamenting that senators even failed to identify themselves as proponents of the proposed infrastructure projects worth P21-billion under the national budget. “Baka may misinformation rin na nakakarating kay Sen. Sotto.”

“Iladlad at ibigay na nila ang buong detalye ng kanilang mga ginawang (post bicam realignments) dahil hindi namin alam kung kanino ang mga iyan at lump sum rin ang mga iyan during bicam meeting. Saan at paano inilagay ng mga senador ang mga iyan?” Bravo asked

Earlier, Andaya said the Senate allegedly made post-bicam realignment worth P75-billion.

“If post-bicam itemization of lump-sum budget by the House of Representatives is unconstitutional or irregular, what about post-bicam realignment by the Senate of P75 billion in the national budget?” Andaya asked.

“It is now the turn of the senators to explain to the public the P75-billion realignment made by the Senate after both chambers ratified the 2019 GAB. The realignment is also nowhere to be found in the bicameral conference committee report,” Andaya added.

Bravo said the Senate should also cease from telling the House of Representatives what to do when it already itemized all the lump sum funds that were agreed during the bicameral conference committee of the national budget

“We did our part when we itemized the lump sum funds. Hindi puwedeng lump sum kasi that is not in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court. They should also do their part now,” said Bravo.

Bravo also asserted that it is the Filipino people who will suffer by holding hostage the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

He said senators should let President Duterte decide on the budget approval and exercise his discretion whether or not to use his veto power.

“This budget is very much needed by this Administration. This budget is very much needed by our people. Sino ho ang tatamaan dito? Iyong ating mahihirap na kababayan. So I’m appealing to the Senate. Let the President exercise his discretion for the veto power,” Bravo said.

On Monday, Andaya revealed that the Senate also itemized their amendments after Congress ratified the 2019 national budget.