MANILA - Representatives of the upper and lower house of Congress met Monday to iron out issues that are stalling the passage of the P3.75 trillion 2019 national budget.
Present during the meeting are Senators Panfilo Lacson, Gringo Honasan and Loren Legarda, who chairs the committee on Finance. Meanwhile San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr represented the lower house.
Also present are officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Minutes before the meeting, Andaya expressed willingness to settle the budget issues. However, the lawmaker stressed that no "amendments" were made in the ratified bill.
“Walang amendment na ginawa. Everything that was printed was all within the ratified version. There is just one version... that’s why we have to talk about it and explain what it really contains,” Andaya told reporters.
“Theses are all lump sum. You can never do the details without approving first the whole amount. So you approve first the whole amount and then that’s where the whole House provides the details on whatever lump sum (is) there,” he added.
Andaya said the House was hoping to see an approved budget before March 29, which is also the start of the local campaign season.
“We want to hurry it up and hopefully before the 29th magkaroon na tayo ng budget. Hinahabol natin 'yung good weather window,” he said.
Senate President Vicento Sotto III refused to sign the House version of the enrolled bill after Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out that billions of pesos were realigned after it was ratified.