House leaders spar over changes to 2020 budget bill

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2019 03:29 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2019 03:30 PM

MANILA – A House leader who moved to withdraw the 2020 budget proposal from plenary debates on Monday sought more time to gather complaints against the bill.

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said some lawmakers wanted to push for some priority projects in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) "but it doesn't mean na nagreklamo sila, masusunod sila (but that doesn't mean they will get their way just because they complained)."

However, the head of the House tax-writing committee, Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, said altering the budget proposal at this point would be unacceptable. He said it could be approved on third and final reading by Oct. 4 under his original timeline. 

"If you’re going to touch the GAB it will be interpreted as mangling, as altering the budget of the executive that was submitted to us," he said. 

Villafuerte denied claims that proposed changes to the budget bill were considered "insertions" or that it could lead to pork barrel.

"We still have to follow a process," Villafuerte said. "Give us more time, we'll try to compile it this week."

New expenditure items may be introduced by legislators during deliberations as long as these will not increase the size of the budget originally submitted by the President to the Congress, Villafuerte said. 

Ungab claimed Villafuerte requested for a meeting after the 2020 budget bill was withdrawn.

These changes include projects that were vetoed in the 2019 budget, which cannot be included in the 2020 measure, Ungab said.

Lengthy debates over alleged insertions in the 2019 budget delayed its passage, slowing gross economic product growth in the first 6 months of the year.-- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News