President Rodrigo Duterte is thoroughly scrutinizing the proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 which was recently ratified by Congress, Malacañang said.
“Pinag-aaralan niya (He’s reviewing it),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told dzIQ, when asked if the President has already received the proposed 2020 budget ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives on December 11.
Panelo, however, could not say as to when the President will sign the budget spending plan for next year.
To avert another scenario of a reenacted budget, senators and congressmen comprising the bicameral conference committee approved on Dec. 11 the final version of the PHP4.1-trillion national budget bill for 2020.
The national government was forced to operate under a reenacted 2018 budget from January to mid-April 2019 because of the Senate and House of Representatives’ squabble over supposed insertions and realignments made by some lawmakers in the PHP3.757-trillion budget for 2019.
The ratification of the proposed 2020 budget met the strict timeline set by the two chambers, despite the supposed last-minute insertions worth PHP83 billion made in the last few days of the bicameral deliberations.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who skipped the signing of the bicameral report on the 2020 national spending plan, claimed Tuesday that around 1,253 budget items amounting to PHP83.219 billion are being included in the proposed budget as congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth PHP16.342 billion.
Lacson said he could not determine which of the two sets of projects were inserted “at the last minute” prior to the bicameral signing because “there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files.”
The senator noted that the provinces that received the biggest share of the supposed insertions are Albay (PHP670 million), Cavite (PHP580 million), Sorsogon (PHP570 million), Batangas (PHP502 million), Bulacan (PHP440 million), Pangasinan (PHP420 million), and Cebu (PHP410 million).
In November 2013, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund or the pork barrel, a discretionary fund received by lawmakers every year for their pet projects.
Panelo guaranteed that the President would wield his veto power to get rid of the funds inserted in the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act that will be found violative of the 1987 Constitution.
“Gaya nga ng sinasabi, simula’t sapul, basta merong isang batas na panukala sa kanyang lamesa, ito ay sasang-ayunan at pipirmahan niya kung ito ay naaayon sa Saligang Batas (Just like what we’re saying ever since, the President will sign any proposed measure that complies with the Constitution),” he said.
“At anuman ang probisyon na labag dito ay kanyang ibi-veto. ‘Yun ang palagi niyang sinasabi (He will veto any provisions that violate the Constitution. That’s what he always says),” the Palace official added. (PNA)