President Rodrigo Duterte met with Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Tuesday night to come up with a solution to an impasse over the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
Deliberations on the budget were suspended after lawmakers demanded a return to the obligation-based budgeting system in lieu of a cash-based system that shortens the time agencies have to use funding for their projects.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said Arroyo will be accompanied by House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., a former secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.
“There will be a meeting tonight [Tuesday night] at the Palace between President Duterte and Nograles said the meeting comes after he failed to convince Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno during his meeting Tuesday morning for the DBM to amend the 2019 national budget bill towards an obligations-based budgeting system.
“I do not see why your hardline stance on the cash-based budgeting system, [when in the end we will adopt the Plan B―which is to go for a reenacted budget],” Nograles said.
Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate committee on finance, also attended the Tuesday morning meeting with Nograles and Diokno.
But Nograles said he is still hopeful that Diokno will consider the demand of Congress to return to an obligations-based budgeting scheme.
“We are here to watch the President’s back as members of the PDP [Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino]... as members of the President’s political party.. and support the projects that work. We have to ensure they are not derailed,” Nograles said.
Nograles noted that the DBM would have to go back to Congress for a supplemental budget once a re-enacted budget is in place.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Tuesday branded as “foolish and counter-productive” the suspension of budget deliberations in the House, saying it will only make the President appear weak for being unable to pass his own budget despite having a supermajority in Congress.
Drilon said that the House of Representatives’ plan to return the proposed 2019 national budget to the executive “has never been done before,” said Drilon, adding that he is not aware of any procedure that would allow that.
“Therefore, I urge both houses of Congress to resume deliberations of the budget because it is our constitutional duty to enact an annual budget. We cannot and we should not allow a reenacted budget, most particularly in an election year,” Drilon said.
“So, stop these foolish talks of a reenacted budget. It’s not a good practice and it will not lead us anywhere,” Drilon said. “It will prejudice every Juan dela Cruz and it will be detrimental to the
economy and the implementation of crucial laws such as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.”
“A reenacted budget is bad for the country and will reflect badly on the President as it will make him appear weak,” Drilon said.
The Palace said Tuesday it was maintaining friendly ties with the House despite he impasse over the national budget.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque called on members of the House to
explain their refusal to hold budget hearings, given that their own respective pet projects could be affected.
“Expect a long line of congressmen lining up now in DBM if it’s a reenacted budget because they will make sure their pet projects are implemented by the Executive,” he said.
“We don’t want that. Let me clarify: We don’t want that. We prefer that the budget is passed. We see no reason why Congress will stop altogether deliberations on the budget,” Roque said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, said nothing is insurmountable in the disagreement between the House and the Palace.
He also said a reenacted budget would be unacceptable because it would give the President the blanket authority to declare the capital outlay component of the budget as “savings,” giving him the power to fund whatever programs, activities, and projects he wants in an election year.
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