Sotto: Budget approved before Jan. 2019 ends

December 16, 2018
Vicente Sotto III

AFTER the failure to pass the 2019 proposed national budget on time, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III expressed confidence  they will  finish all the discussions and approve it before January 2019 ends.

Sotto, in an interview with DZBB, said that they will immediately resume their sessions to tackle the budget of the departments that they have yet discussed.

“Pag-resume namin ng January 14, siguradong itutuloy namin ang natitirang department at pagkatapos susunod ang amendments, saka isalang sa bicam,” Sotto said.

He added that President Rodrigo Duterte already knew that there will be a re-enacted budget for January because of the delays which they pointed to the House of Representativeds (HOR).

The Senate should have received the House version last November 1, but the chamber got the copy only last December 1.

Aside from the obvious reasons for the delay such as the change in the House of Representatives’ leadership, which also caused changes in committee memberships and leaderships, Sotto said that other factors that resulted in the delay is the discrepancies in the proposed budgets of some departments.

“Ang tawag nila dun sa lingo ng budget preparation ‘bukol’ ... may mga nakabukol na budget na ano bayun? Isa sa dahilan ‘wag nila kami sisihin,” Sotto said.

Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out some bloated budgets of some departments, which he attributed to a new scheme of taking kickbacks from lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which he called “pork parking.”

Under the scheme, a lawmaker earns commissions (in kickbacks) by “parking their pork barrel” in a legislative district of a “well-connected” House member.

Some members of the Senate urged Lacson to name names but the Senator won’t budge saying that his source in Congress doesn’t want to be identified.