Duterte says won’t sign ‘illegal’ budget

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2019 08:44 PM

Duterte says won’t sign ‘illegal’ budget 1
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 1st Anniversary of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) at the Malacañan Palace on March 6, 2019. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will not sign a budget that is not conforming to the requirements of the Constitution, as the two chambers of Congress grapple with the passage of the already-delayed budget for 2019.

The government is currently running on a reenacted budget, as Congress failed to pass the P3.7 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2019 on time. The two chambers are still quarreling over the alleged changes made by the House of Representatives on the proposed 2019 budget after the bicameral conference committee approved its version.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would not sign the ratified 2019 national budget if alleged changes by the lower chamber are proven.

Duterte appeared to agree with the Senate, saying in a Palace speech that “I will not sign anything that will be an illegal document.”

At the same time, however, the President warned that the economy will contract if it continues to operate on a reenacted budget.

“Magkaroon tayo ng slide sa GDP (gross domestic product) n’yan if we are going to reenact the budget. Everybody will suffer, including the law enforcement,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, one of the most vocal critics of the House contingent, said the government may continue to operate on a reenacted budget until August this year, when the new members of Congress are in place.

He claimed that the House made last-minute amendments to the budget and funneled nearly P95 billion in funds to the districts of allies of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press conference, House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Anthony Bravo said Lacson had nothing but harsh words for the former president even before she became the top House leader. 

“The way I look at it, my own assessment, Senator Ping Lacson is holding the budget hostage because of personal vendetta to our Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He has not said anything good about the Speaker from the very start of her leadership as Speaker," he said. 

For his part, Lacson said Bravo’s opinion "reflects his own attitude and character."

“I am a forgiving person. I have already forgiven all those who had wronged me in the past. This is about the national budget. This is about my personal anti-pork crusade and advocacy, not Speaker Arroyo or any congressman or senator,” he said.