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Line veto best option on budget, Lacson says

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes it would be better if President Rodrigo Duterte merely vetoes the “line items” in the 2019 budget instead of throwing out the entire spending plan, after the country’s economic managers warned that growth in gross domestic product would slow down with a re-enacted budget.

“We were informed by the economic managers there will be a 1.8-percent slide in the GDP by August in case of a reenacted budget,” Lacson said.

The President earlier said he would not hesitate to veto the entire budget if he found any irregularities in the spending plan, a move that would compel the government to run on the 2018 budget.

“So that will be bad for the economy because the biggest bulk of contribution to the growth rate of the country came from government spending. So if the budget will be vetoed and the reenacted budget will be for a year, that will be the negative impact,” Lacson said.

On the other hand, Lacson said, if the President approves the budget in its entirety, it would be tainted with pork barrel, which has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

Lacson has accused the House of inserting pork in the national budget after it was approved by the bicameral conference committee.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian agreed with Lacson that economic growth would slow down if the President vetoed the budget. He also said no winners would emerge in the process.

“Infrastructure projects, particularly those that are slated to start this year, will be put on hold—to the detriment of all Filipinos,” he said.

Reelectionist Senator Grace Poe said that state-funded programs for poor farmers and the newly created Bangsamoro autonomous region may be put on the back burner without a new budget.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, on the other hand, said the prospect of a reenacted budget was proof of the President’s failure to rid his administration of the pork barrel system.

“We would have a reenacted budget for this year because the President failed to stand up against the return of the pork barrel,” she said.

House Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Sagip. Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on Sunday said he believed the President would not veto the entire 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget after the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed the priority projects and anti-corruption campaign of the Chief Executive under the national expenditure program.

Unlike the Senate that supposedly pushed the unconstitutional lump sum fund, Marcoleta said, Arroyo promoted transparency and accountability in the national budget when the House worked on the itemization of lawmakers’ projects through Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House committee on appropriations.

“I don’t think the President will veto the 2019 budget in its entirety. He knows only too well the downside of a reenacted budget. The posturing of a few senators cannot compromise his duty to decide for the greater good,” he said.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danny Suarez and House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro agreed with Marcoleta.

“We maintain that the budget was drafted and passed by the House of Representatives according to long-established and duly constituted legislative processes. And we stand ready to address any concerns that the Palace may have in its review of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill,” Suarez said.

“The House of Representatives under Speaker [Arroyo’s] leadership has clearly defined its legislative agenda to be always in accord with and always in full support of President Duterte’s priority bills and programs,” Castro said.

He said Congress pushed for the itemization of projects to comply with the Supreme Court ruling against the use of pork barrel.

READ: Senate backs Duterte’s threat to veto budget

READ : Budget approval likely before Easter—Palace

Topics: Panfilo Lacson , Rodrigo Duterte , Supreme Court , Danilo Suarez , Fredenil Castro
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