MANILA -- Senators and congressmen approved on Friday the P3.76-trillion national budget, paving the way for its enactment into law after being delayed due to alleged irregularities.
The Senate and the House need to approve the bicameral conference committee's version of the budget before it can be submitted to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
Government has been running on a reenacted 2018 budget since the start of the year after lawmakers failed to pass the spending law before the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline.
Budget deliberations in the House of Representatives stalled last year after House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya Jr accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of inserting P75 billion in public works allocations.
Diokno denied wrongdoing and the Senate on Jan. 15 removed the P75 billion.
Hours before the budget was passed, Andaya accused Diokno of attempting to "bribe" lawmakers for them to keep silent over alleged irregularities in the 2019 budget.
Diokno, according to Andaya, "offered the house P40 billion for us to shut up about the P75 billion insertions."
Andaya said the budget chief told him that the money would come from savings in the 2018 budget.
Diokno dismissed Andaya's charge as "false" and "baseless."