The vote was held separately on the same day the bicameral conference committee approved the proposed 2020 budget.
Finance committee chairman Senator Juan Edgardo Angara endorsed the report to the plenary and it was ratified without opposition.
At the Lower House, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the budget that was passed has “no pork, no parked funds, and no delays with full transparency.”
“2020 is a very symbolic year as it represents a perfect vision—a vision we share with President Duterte to provide a safe and comfortable life for all Filipinos. Now more than ever is the best time to push for reforms to see this goal though,” Cayetano said in a statement.
“While there is no perfect budget, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have identified areas where funds have been underutilized for various reasons. Thus, both houses made adjustments so it can now be fully utilized for programs such as the Build, Build, Build and social welfare programs in furthering the goal of improving the quality of life of Filipinos,” he added.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez denied allegations of pork barrel inserted in the proposed national budget even after the bicameral meeting.
“We have not discovered [any alleged insertions] and there are no commentaries about it here in the bicam so we hope even that will be clarified,” Romualdez said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier claimed that there are still “lump sums” and “vaguely described projects” that are now part of the bicam report.
Lacson also noted that upon preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House, it was discovered that the “Source File” is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219 billion that was allegedly used as the congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth P16.345 billion that were inserted in the bicam report.
“But of course, we always respect the views of each and every congressman and senator, and we share the same zeal and we are always with Senator Ping [Lacson] and those who want to rid the budget of any of those pork issues,” Romualdez said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Congress is hoping to have the proposed 2020 GAA signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 20 before lawmakers go on break for the holidays.
Among the critical programs of the Duterte administration are measures to implement new laws and policies that provide socio-economic assistance to all Filipinos and enhance security of the nation, such as the following: 1) full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; 2) institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; 3) smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; 4) implementation of the liberalization of rice importation; 5) creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development; and 6) National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Cayetano and Romualdez said the early approval of the budget provides the President ample time to review the bill’s provisions and ensure that it is aligned with the priority programs of the administration.
A critic of the budget process, Lacson stayed away from the bicameral conference committee meeting Monday night.
“Pork is here to stay. I hope the President will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money,” Lacson said.
He said pork insertions could reach P83 billion.
“Bad habits are indeed hard to break,” Lacson said. With PNAREAD: House to pass 2020 national budget, says RomualdezREAD: Target: Oct. 1 budget relay
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.