Senate OKs proposed P3.7-trillion 2019 national budget, Sotto cites 'reservations'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2019 03:08 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2019 05:58 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday he has signed the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget but with "strong reservations."

In a press briefing, Sotto appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto "unconstitutional" provisions within the spending plan, including the alleged realignment of a P75-billion chunk of the proposal.

"I affix my signature with strong reservations," Sotto said of his letter to the President.

The development ends the impasse between Senate and the House of Representatives over the proposed budget following a three-hour meeting on Monday. 

Sotto said the proposed budget is already on its way to Malacañang for the President's signature.

The government has been operating on a reenacted 2018 budget since January. 

"We are sending the enrolled bill now to the President as it is," Sotto said.

He earlier refused to sign the budget after Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo realigned P25 billion to favor certain lawmakers, which she denied. 

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. 

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo commended Congress for “breaking the impasse” on the national budget.

Panelo assured the people that President Rodrigo Duterte will “go over the enrolled bill, scrutinize it and sign it should the same be in accordance with our Constitution and the laws.”

“As we approach the midpoint of the Duterte Administration, we remain determined to build on the significant gains that we have started in the first two-and-a-half years and continue to stay on the right track to deliver real and lasting change to our people,” he added.