House not stalling budget passage

January 29, 2019

THE chairman of the House committee on appropriations yesterday hinted at the possibility of Congress’ failure to approve the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget before adjourning on February 6 to give way to  the national campaign.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya, Jr., panel chairman,said he would be betraying his colleagues in the Lower Chamber if the House panel in the bicameral conference committee would agree to approve the national budget without thorough scrutiny.

“Minamadali na naman, para nandiyan ulit ‘yung mga nadiskubreng anomalya noong 2018 budget. I know where the places are. If I will be forced to do it, dared to do it, I will bring this House down. If they will pass the budget without thinking, I’ll bring everybody down. You know it; I know it,” Andaya told lawmakers during the resumption of his panel probe on the P75-billion budget insertions and alleged anomalous budget practices of embattled Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno that the latter has vehemently denied.

“We (in the House) are not stalling the budget [passage]. They just want us to pass the budget without thinking because we are only in session until February 6. That would be wrong. The bicameral panel discussion in the coming days will be the hardest and most intense they will witness,” said Andaya.

Well-placed sources said the House panel led by Andaya asked for the itemized “insertions” made by the Senate from Sen. Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on finance, during last Monday night’s bicameral conference committee meeting at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

“There was no major agreement last Monday night because the Senate failed to provide the House of senators’ itemized list of insertions,” a member of the bicameral panel told this reporter.

Andaya said the bicameral conference committee agreed Monday night to exclude a dredging project in this year’s national budget.

During Monday’s bicameral conference meeting, Andaya bared that the Senate made P190-billion insertions compared to their P51-billion.

Legarda confirmed Andaya’s statement and named Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a vice chairman of the Senate committee on finance, as the one who introduced almost P50-billion “institutional amendments” out of the P189.2-billion that the Senate inserted in their version.

Andaya announced the Senate’s request to cancel last night’s scheduled bicameral conference committee on the national budget at the Manila Polo Club to finish itemizing the individual and the so-called institutional amendments.

“The Senate conferees to the bicameral conference have requested cancellation of discussion on the proposed 2019 national budget.They have yet to finalize the complete details of institutional and individual amendments requested by the House conferees.

The bicam will resume session at 2 p.m. today  at the Manila Polo Club,” said Andaya.