Lacson to question 2019 national budget if enacted in its current form

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2019 04:30 PM | Updated as of Mar 28 2019 05:19 PM

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MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he would question the 2019 national budget if it would be enacted in its current form.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier signed the P3.7 trillion spending bill on Tuesday for transmission to the Office of the President, but with "strong reservations," citing unconstitutional provisions and a P75-billion "internal realignment." 

Sotto also asked the president to veto such "unconstitutional" provisions within the spending plan. 

The Senate will respect President Rodrigo Duterte's decision in case he decides to sign the enrolled bill in its current form, but it will not prevent lawmakers to question its approval, Lacson said in a press briefing Thursday. 

"We’ll respect that because that’s well within his authority pero (but) it will not also prevent us, me particularly, to question na dahil kung pork naaprubahan, na-implement sayang na naman ang pondo (if pork barrel was approved and implemented then we're wasting funds)," he said. 

Lacson claimed there were items that were not "vetted" by implementing agencies. 

"In the preparation phase, pinag-aralan nila lahat 'yan (they studied that)... pagkatapos pagdating sa House o sa Senate babaguhin mo bigla (then upon reaching the Senate or the House you will suddenly make changes) whimsically, capriciously and without any consultation with the agencies, just imagine what would happen to those items, it cannot be implement," he said. 

Lacson earlier said some P75 billion in funds had been realigned by the House to various lawmakers. 

The amount was earlier questioned by House members as an alleged insertion by former Budget Secretary and now Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno into the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, delaying deliberations. 

Diokno denied any irregularity in the budget increase. 

Duterte, for his part, will scrutinize every provision of the budget bill, Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said. 

The government has been operating on a reenacted 2018 budget since January. The first quarter economic growth is "likely trimmed" by the budget impasse, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said.