Senate to continue deliberations on proposed P3.757-trillion national budget

Published November 11, 2018, 5:15 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Hannah Torregoza

The Senate will continue deliberations on the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 as Congress resumes sessions this week.


On Monday, the Senate finance committee will scrutinize the budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and their respective attached agencies.

The next day, Nov. 13, the Senate will tackle the budget of the Department of Health (DOH), the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Climate Change Commission, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and their attached agencies.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier vowed to fast track passage of the national budget. But he expressed concerns over the possible delay of next year’s budget’s approval as they have to wait for the House of Representative’s approval of the proposed General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

The House has yet to approve their version of the GAB after it was stalled in the Lower House when lawmakers fought over the realignment of the P51.7-billion “pork barrel” funds.

The budget controversy propelled the Lower House to convene itself into a committee of the whole to recall the supposed infrastructure funds that were allegedly realigned to congressional districts of some favored congressmen.

The P51.7-billion were reportedly distributed in large amounts and given to districts whose congressmen were close to Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, the former House leader.

The supposed “parked funds” were discovered by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Majority Leader Rolando Andaya.

According to Sotto, they do not expect the GAB to be transmitted to the Senate this week as they also expect changes in the House committee chairmanship following the appointment of Rep. Karlo Nograles as Cabinet secretary. It was Nograles who is leading the House budget deliberation as chair of the House committee on appropriations.

Sotto said this may push back the Senate’s schedule on the approval of next year’s budget. “That is a bit worrisome. I think we now have a limited timeframe,” Sotto had said in a press forum last week.

“But it’s good that the Senate committees have started scrutinizing the proposed national budget,” Sotto said.