Palace still confident Congress will pass 2019 budget

THERE was no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to rub elbows with lawmakers to ensure the passage of the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019, Malacañang said on Monday, February 4.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the executive branch remains confident that Congress will pass the proposed budget for this year.

"We eagerly await the passage of that bill, General Appropriations Bill. They know that it will bring adverse consequences if we have a reenacted budget. They know that. In other words, we're still hopeful that it will pass because they said so," the Palace official said.

"Wala. Otherwise, eh 'di noon pa nang-braso. Hindi iyan style ni Presidente. Never interferes (The President has no intention to rub elbows with the lawmakers to have the proposed 2019 budget approved. That's not the style of the President. He never interferes)," he added.

This came as the bicameral conference committee is still deliberating on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill, which is expected to be ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday, February 6, the last day of session in Congress.

On January 30, Senate President Vicente Sotto III threatened to withdraw the Senate version of the draft spending bill for 2019 following allegations of pork barrel and fund insertions.

Meantime, House committee on appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya on Sunday, February 4, cautioned that there will be no bicameral report, if the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) failed to submit a report on the remaining balance of the 2018 national budget.

The government is currently operating under a reenacted budget, following the Congress' failure to approve the proposed budget for 2019.

Panelo said the Palace would let DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno to act on the latest demand of Andaya's committee.

"Again, it's for Secretary Diokno's call. I will not preempt whatever he has in mind. He will respond," he said.

In a text message, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the President was certainly "dismayed" by the lawmakers' apparent inaction to pass the proposed General Appropriations Bill for the fiscal year 2019.

Medialdea, however, also echoed Panelo's statement, saying the Palace remained optimistic that the draft spending bill for this year would be passed.

"He (Duterte) is aware and I am sure he is dismayed at the legislators' inaction, which will delay his infrastructure projects," Medialdea said.

"We are still hopeful that the legislators will perform their constitutional duties as President Duterte and his economic team did by submitting the President's budget on the day of the Sona (State of the Nation Address), or 30 days before the constitutional deadline," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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