MALACAÑANG on Monday, December 4, remained optimistic that the Senate and the House of Representatives would be able to reach a compromise and come up with a final version of the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.

"The Palace has all the confidence that we will have the budget pursuant to the request made by the Palace because this budget is crucial to the Build, Build, Build program of the government intended to alleviate poverty in this country," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said.

He declined to comment on speculations that the government might have to operate with a reenacted budget next year.

"I can't comment on a purely speculative matter. I cannot believe that the House and the Senate cannot agree on next year's budget," he said.

The proposed P3.767-trillion national budget is 12.4 percent higher than the P3.35-trillion budget for 2017.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have convened bicameral conference committees following the approval of their respective versions of the 2018 budget.

Contentious issues that have cropped up during the bicameral conference include the Senate's decision to cut the P50.7-billion budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways' right-of-way acquisitions and realign the Philippine National Police 's P900-million budget for the anti-drug campaign.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the preceding national budget will be re-appropriated for the coming fiscal year if Congress fails to approve a budget for next year by the end of the year.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had warned of a reenacted budget, if the Senate does not agree to realign key items in the government's proposed budget.

Senate finance committee chairperson Loren Legarda, on the other hand, had expressed optimism that there will be no reenacted budget, giving assurance that the Senate and the House of Representatives will be able to iron out the differences on their versions of 2018 budget. (SunStar Philippines)