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Entire House liable if Arroyo erred in signing 2019 budget
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Entire House liable if Arroyo erred in signing 2019 budget

March 14 ------ Senator Panfilo Lacson should not only go after Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but majority of the members of the House of Representatives who authorized her to sign the allegedly falsified version of the 2019 budget, a leader of the chamber said. Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay issued the reaction after Lacson said that Arroyo may be prone to being charged for falsification because she signed a version of P3.757-trillion national budget that contained provisions that were not part of the draft approved by the bicameral conference committee and ratified by both houses of Congress.

Pichay said that like the Senate, the House of Representatives is a collegial body, and that any act of the Speaker to sign bills and other forms of legislation is an act of the lower chamber as a whole. "If [Arroyo] is liable, then majority of the members are equally liable because we authorized her to do it. Why is Senator Lacson singling her out?" Pichay said in a statement. Pichay challenged the senator to bring the case to court, which can make the proper judgment on his allegations.

He said only the Supreme Court can declare that the budget is unconstitutional, as it is the sole body that can make such pronouncement. "If you believe it is unconstitutional, then file a case and question it. It is only when the Supreme Court declares it to be unconstitutional that it is unconstitutional," Pichay told Lacson.

The House leader said Lacson's latest move showed he is "desperate" to bring Arroyo down. "This latest pronouncement is a glaring example that all this issue over the budget is Senator Lacson’s personal vendetta against the Speaker," he added. Pichay said Lacson's statement is an "act of desperation" arising from his deep-rooted anger towards Arroyo. Lacson said the printed copy of the budget bill transmitted by the House to the Senate deviated from bicameral conference committee report earlier ratified by both houses of Congress.

“Since Speaker Arroyo already signed the House version of the enrolled bill, she’s already prone to being charged for falsification because she’s already certified on something that did not take place,” he said. “The act of signing a falsified document is already consummated. So any taxpayer can already go to the Ombudsman or DOJ to file a criminal complaint against her for falsification. Pinirmahan niya na nga pinadala dito already signed,” Lacson added.

Pichay urged Lacson to set aside his anger towards Arroyo in order for the Congress to finally resolve its impasse as regards the 2019 national budget. "Senator Ping, for the sake of the country and for the sake of President [Rodrigo] Duterte who had called upon Congress to act on it swiftly otherwise the economy and the welfare of the Filipino people will suffer, set aside mo muna ang rage mo kay Speaker," he said.

It was House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Anthony Bravo who raised the issue that Lacson may have been holding the 2019 national budget hostage due to his "personal vendetta" against Arroyo. He pointed out that the Lacson and Arroyo have a long history of conflict against each other, dating back to the time when the latter was still the President. For one, Lacson was alleged to have masterminded the killing of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000, for which he was charged with double murder in 2010, during Arroyo's presidency.

The senator pinned the blame to the Arroyo administration for the charges filed against him, saying this was the result of the former president's political vendetta against him for his exposés on the Jose Pidal scandal, jueteng payola, "Hello Garci" controversy, the anomalous NBN-ZTE deal, among others. "I don't want to enter in that discussion relative to how the relationship was broken between the two, but then kung susundan natin, from the end of the term of President GMA hanggang maging Speaker siya, nakita natin kung paano siya kini-criticize [ni Lacson]," Bravo earlier said.

Source: gmanetwork.com