House to 'move forward' with budget bill, eyes passage before Oct break: Salceda

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2019 01:57 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2019 03:45 PM

MANILA – The House of Representatives will “move forward” and refer the 2020 national budget back to the plenary, a lawmaker said Tuesday. 

Rival blocs in the House agreed to support Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in getting the 2020 budget approved before lawmakers go on break on Oct. 5, House Committee of Ways and Means chairman and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda told ANC. 

The budget bill was withdrawn from the plenary by Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte due to alleged “premature” filing, prompting a warning from Committee on Appropriations chair and Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab that its passage could be derailed. 

The dispute between Ungab and Villafuerte, which could have caused a “big crack," was resolved at the level of the speaker, Salceda said. 

"Wala pong crack na nangyari, naayos naman lahat (No such 'crack' happened, everything was resolved)... I’d rather say that the outcome speaks for itself, that on Monday we'll have the GAB as is where is, that’s the NEP, and that we will approve it by Oct. 5," Salceda said.

The GAB refers to the General Appropriations Bill while the NEP is the National Expenditure Program.

“Actually the leadership, the Speaker, sort of allowed the House to move forward and said that on Monday upon filing of the GAB, as it mirrored the NEP, will be referred back to the Committee so we can approve it so we can go to the plenary. In other words all is well that ends well… I think the buck stops at the speaker,” Salceda said. 

Villafuerte earlier denied claims that proposed changes to the budget bill were considered "insertions" or that it could lead to pork barrel. Any pork barrel suspicion, at this point, is still "premature," Salceda said. 

Ungab said the House could propose a supplemental budget to address concerns of lawmakers who wanted to push for projects that were vetoed in the 2019 budget.

"Most likely it could be supplemental pero pag-aaralan nga (we still need to discuss it)," Ungab said. 

Ungab said these were "regular projects" that have an impact on the economy, like roads going to tourism areas, and farm to market roads. 

"We will try to find ways kung paano mabalik yung pondo (to bring back the funds)," he added.

The delayed passage of the 2019 budget due to alleged "insertions" has caused a slower economic growth for the first half of the year, analysts said. -- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News