By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang is confident that the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) would push through as scheduled despite the reenacted budget for the first quarter of the year.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that the 2018 national budget has included an allocation for the plebiscite for the inclusion in the Bangsamoro region.
“The upcoming plebiscite on the Bangsamoro law, however, will not be affected as the budget for this was already included in the 2018 budget,” Panelo said in a statement.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) earlier announced the ratification of the Bangsamoro law would be conducted in two separate days.
The plebiscite for areas comprising the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan will be held on January 21. The plebiscite for Lanao del Norte and other Bangsamoro core areas is scheduled on on February 6.
The reenacted budget and its impact on government programs were discussed during the Cabinet meeting convened by President Duterte in the Malacanang on Monday. Congress earlier failed to pass the proposed 2019 national budget before the end of December over allegations of irregularities.
While there was no impact on the BOL plebiscite, Panelo acknowledged that the delay in the budget approval would affect other projects including the planned salary increase for government workers.
“The President was briefed about the implications of the reenacted budget for the first quarter of 2019, which include a delay on the implementation of the salary hike for employees of the government, teachers, policemen and soldiers,” he said.
“Delays on the infrastructure programs and delivery of basic social services will also be observed,” he added.
On Monday night, Malacanang issued an urgent call to Congress to swiftly approve the 2019 national budget to prevent any delay in government programs.
Panelo said further unreasonable delay to approve the budget that will throw “a monkey wrench” on the program of the administration would be unacceptable to the people.
“It behooves members of Congress to steer off partisan considerations and sweep away the indifference to the plight of the citizenry and collectively focus their attention to pass the General Appropriation Bill into law for the service of the people that they have sworn to protect,” he said.