MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday blamed squabbling lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate for the delay in the passage of this year’s P3.7-trillion national budget.
The President on Monday signed the long-delayed national spending plan, but excluded P95.3 billion in appropriations under the Department of Public Works and Highways as these were outside the programmed priorities of the administration.
“The budget should be in operation at the start of the fiscal year, January. Sa kakaaway-away nila, kahapon ko lang napirmahan ang budget,” Duterte said in a speech during a campaign rally of the PDP-Laban party in Batangas City.
(Because of their squabbles, I only signed the budget [Monday].)
"Wala na akong pambayad sa mga pulis, pati sundalo. Wala na akong pambayad pati local government," he added.
(I can't pay the police and soldiers' salaries. I also don’t have funds to pay the local government.)
Wrangling among lawmakers over supposed insertions in the national spending plan delayed the passage of this year’s budget and forced the government to run on a reenacted 2018 spending plan for nearly 4 months.
The President’s signing of the bill ended an almost 4-month delay that threatened the growth of the economy and affected some government services and projects.
Duterte signed the bill after Sotto affixed his signature to the bill but expressed “strong reservations.”
Sotto had urged Duterte to veto "unconstitutional" provisions within the spending plan, including the alleged realignment of a P75-billion chunk of the proposal.