'Lose the pork': Sotto backs Duterte's reenacted budget threat

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2019 08:09 AM | Updated as of Apr 12 2019 11:13 PM

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MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said he "will support" President Rodrigo Duterte should the chief executive decide to veto the entire 2019 national budget, and operate on a reenacted spending measure this year.

Senator Vicente Sotto III leads the flag raising ceremony, his first as Senate President on Monday, July 30, 2018. Sotto also said that Senate employees shall receive P5,000 “grocery and transport allowance” and announced that at least 400 employees of the senate shall undergo a random drug test including him and Senator Honasan immediately after the morning ceremony. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

Sotto gave the remark a day after Duterte said in a public address that he would "not hesitate" to reject the P3.75-trillion budget should he spot irregularities in the spending measure.

All discretionary funds or pork barrel of lawmakers would be erased under a reenacted budget as "everything is left to the discretion of the executive department," Sotto said in a statement.

"Do remember that that was my original suggestion when it came to my attention that the House leaders were being difficult," he said.

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The Senate president earlier said he signed the 2019 budget "with strong reservations" after the House of Representatives allegedly realigned P72 billion to several congressional districts even after the bicameral conference committee report on the budget has been ratified.

"Those whose terms end and were involved in the illegal realignments will lose all their pork," Sotto said.

"I will support the President's decision. Anyway, we can pass a new one in the next Congress with new leaders," he said.

Duterte's threat of vetoing the entire 2019 budget is a message to Congress, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

"Vetoing this year's entire budget can also be the executive's way of saying to congress to "get your act together," he said.

The country has been operating on a reenacted since January 2019 after Congress failed to pass the General Appropriations Act before the end of 2018 over feuds on alleged budget insertions.

- report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News