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Duterte fails to break budget impasse
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Duterte fails to break budget impasse

MANILA, Philippines, March 14 ------ Not even a meeting with President Duterte could break the impasse among lawmakers over this year’s stalled budget program. “There is a budget impasse due to some constitutional questions raised by both chambers. Only Congress can resolve and break this impasse,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement yesterday. At the start of the meeting Tuesday night, the President reiterated that he would not sign a budget bill not bearing Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s signature. Senate and House leaders gave conflicting accounts of what took place during the meeting at Malacañang.

The House and the Senate have been accusing each other of making last-minute amendments to the P3.757-trillion budget right after its approval by the bicameral conference committee. The Office of the President has yet to receive the enrolled spending bill passed by the bicameral panel last Feb. 8. “We call on the senators and representatives to break the stalemate and deliver to the Filipino people an appropriations law that can aid this government better their lives and help our country move forward,” he added.

Panelo said the Office of the President submitted the proposed budget on July 23, 2018, or 30 days before the deadline imposed by law. Executive officials attended hearings to make sure the legislative process would be unhampered and the budget approved on time, he added. “The executive has performed its constitutional task to submit its proposed budget, we await Congress to comply with its constitutional mandate to pass the same,” the spokesman said. He added the President has opted to let the legislative procedure take its course instead of meddling in the dispute among lawmakers over insertions and realignments.

“As soon as the enrolled bill on the budget is submitted to the President, the latter will perform his constitutional duty to scrutinize it and if he finds it in conformity with the constitutional demands, he will sign it,” he said. While remaining hopeful that lawmakers would eventually resolve their differences, Malacañang stressed it is ready for a reenacted budget scenario. “We assure the nation that the administration, as we have previously stated, is prepared to cushion the impact of a reenacted budget. The delivery of public services to our countrymen will be maintained,” Panelo said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said about P79 billion worth of projects in the bill approved by the bicameral panel had been “manipulated” by some House members. House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. lashed back at the Senate, saying the chamber realigned some P75 billion after the approval of the budget by the bicameral conference committee.

Source: philstar.com