By Raymund Antonio
The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday questioned the House of Representatives’ approval of its draft federal constitution instead of passing the 2019 budget on time.
“Bakit ito ang inuna (Why was it prioritized)?” Vice presidential Barry Gutierrez asked during Robredo’s radio program, “BISErbisyong Leni,” on RMN-dzXL 558.
Gutierrez, who is a former Akbayan representative, wondered why the Lower Chamber fell behind schedule to pass the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019, but not on the draft federal charter.
He emphasized that the passage of the national budget was the most important legislative work of lawmakers.
“Galing din ako sa House. Ang klarong klaro sa amin, sinasabi ‘yan tuwing start ng session na ang pinakaimportanteng ipapasa natin ngayon taon ‘yung budget para sa susunod na taon,” he said.
(I also came from the House. It was very clear to us, we were told every start of the session that the most important is to pass this year the budget for the coming year.)
The 17th Congress adjourned session last week without passing next year’s budget of P3.757 trillion. Because of this, the government will operate for the meantime under a re-enacted appropriation.
Gutierrez, a lawyer, noted it would be the first time in almost a decade that the government will operate under a re-enacted budget.
He even recalled that the national budget was re-enacted several times during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now the House speaker.
Gutierrez said that operating under a previous year’s budget is prone to corruption because it gives the Chief Executive the power to determine which projects should be funded.
“During the time of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, the budget was re-enacted nine times. In those re-enacted budget, there were anomalies,” he said in Filipino.
The former lawmaker denounced the swift passage of proposed federal charter in the House of Representatives, saying that it was not really intended for federalism.
Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15, authored by Arroyo, has been drawing flak for its controversial prohibitions, including the removal of the anti-dynasty provision and term limit for senators, congressmen, and party-list representatives.
“Kung ako ‘yung pangulo magagalit ako kapag ganyan. Dahil kinuha n’yo ideya ko, hindi n’yo na inimplement, ginamit n’yo pang dahilan para magpasok ng panukala ng kayo lang ang makikinabang,” said Gutierrez.
(If I were the president, I will get mad if that happened. Because you stole my idea, you didn’t implement it, you used it as a reason to push for a proposed measure for their own benefit.)