President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed the 2019 national budget, vetoing P95.3 billion worth of public works appropriations
, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Monday.
READ : Budget approval likely before Easter—Palace
After weeks of scrutinizing the controversial spending plan, the President was finally able to affix his signature on the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019.
“Yes, [he signed it]. The President, among others, vetoed P95.3 billion pesos items of appropriations in the details of DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] programs and projects,” Medialdea told Palace reporters in a text message.
Asked if the President found the vetoed allocations for the DPWH’s projects “unconstitutional,” the Palace official said: “No. Not part of the President’s priority projects.”
On March 26, the Office of the President received a copy of the 2019 General Appropriations Act as the Congress broke a months-long impasse between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Duterte then spent almost three weeks reviewing the budget with his legal team, even warning the public that he would veto the spending bill in its entirety if his legal team found irregularities.
The Senate previously submitted an enrolled copy of the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget to the OP.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, attached a letter citing his “strong reservations” about P75 billion worth of public works projects, recommending to the President to veto any unconstitutional provisions.
House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Rolando Andaya Jr., on the other hand, previously hit back at the Senate saying it “sabotaged” the government when it unilaterally decided to cut at least P83.7 billion allocation for the Duterte administration’s mega-infrastructure program and other priority programs.
Malacañang has yet to release the President’s veto message on the P95.3 billion worth of DPWH projects. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has also yet to release a statement on the President’s signing of the 2019 national budget.
Earlier, Andaya said he was confident the President would take into account the P83 billion that he said the Senate had unilaterally cut from the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Sotto, meanwhile, said there would likely be no ceremonial signing for the 2019 national budget because of the bickering between senators and members of the House of Representatives.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Sotto joked there might be a boxing ring if a ceremonial signing were held.
The government has been operating on a re-enacted budget since January because of a months-long dispute between the Senate and the House, which traded accusations of pork barrel insertions. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz
READ: Duterte seen enacting budget into law this week