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Duterte signs 2019 budget
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Duterte signs 2019 budget

MANILA, Philippines, April 16 ------ Four months into the fiscal year, President Duterte finally signed yesterday the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019, without the P95.3-billion realignments made by the House of Representatives. Unlike in the past, the signing of Republic Act 11260 was done without ceremony, and without the presence of any member of either chamber of Congress, who had bickered over their entitlements in the annual appropriation.

Sources told The STAR that Duterte decided to forgo a public ceremony, in what was seen as a manifestation of presidential pique at Congress. Instead, only Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea was present during the signing at the Study Room of Malacañang, the sources said. Medialdea and Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed last night that the budget was signed without the House realignments. Sotto, who is in Bangkok, said Medialdea informed him by phone that the President vetoed some portions of the budget based on the recommendation of the Senate.

“Hindi lang P75 billion kung hindi P95.3 billion ‘yung sinabing na-veto (Not only P75 billion but P95.3 billion was vetoed),” Sotto told The STAR. Medialdea confirmed that the President vetoed more than P95 billion in public works projects because these are not included in the administration’s priorities. “The President, among others, vetoed P95.3 billion items of appropriations in the details of DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) programs/projects, which are not within the programmed priorities,” Medialdea said in a text message.

Earlier, there were invitations sent to lawmakers to attend the signing of the budget slated at 4 p.m. yesterday, but those invited had to await final word if the event would push through. The media advisory for the signing was scrapped from the supposed schedule of reporters covering Malacañang. Several high-ranking officials were mum about the budget when asked by The STAR for update. Even Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said there was no advance information as to developments on the budget.

The President earlier said he was ready to veto the proposed budget if he finds it anomalous. “Kapag tagilid talaga (If it’s really indefensible), I will not hesitate to veto the entire budget, eh di pasensya tayong lahat (nothing we can do about it),” the President earlier said in a speech in Bacolod City.

Source: philstar.com