MANILA – Senate President Vicente Sotto III said around P79 billion in the 2019 national budget was realigned by the House of Representatives even after it was ratified by both chambers of Congress.
In an interview over the weekend, Sotto said the changes done in the 2019 national budget were reported by the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO).
“Ang tingin ng LBRMO eh may nagalaw na P79 billion na hindi kasama sa pinag-usapan sa bicam. Nung ni-ratify namin, hindi ‘yun ‘yung laman nun,” Sotto said.
“Maaaring ang total nung nandudun sa General Appropriations Act ay tama pero sa loob merong naglikod. Bawal na bawal ‘yun sa Konstitusyon,” he added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier hinted that some P25 million were realigned in the 2019 national budget after its ratification but House of Representatives’ Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo denied having knowledge of it.
Following the discovery of the budget realignment, Sotto said he discussed the matter with Malacañang officials who will in turn talk to the lower chamber.
“As we speak ipinaalam na namin sa executive department para kausapin ‘yung leadership ng House at sabihin sa kanila na i-maintain doon sa kung ano ang pinasa namin,” Sotto said.
After much delay due to allegations of anomalous insertions favoring some lawmakers, the Senate and House of Representatives’ bicameral conference committee agreed last month on the final version of the P3.8-trillion 2019 national budget.
The Philippine government is currently operating under a reenacted budget since the start of the year due to Congress’ failure to pass the national budget before the end of last year./PN