By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has appealed to the two houses of Congress to break the stalemate on the proposed 2019 national budget and comply with its constitutional mandate to pass the spending bill.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo recognized that only Congress could resolve the budget impasse, adding that President Duterte would not interfere with the affairs of a co-equal branch of government.
Panelo issued the statement after President Duterte met with Congress leaders on issues derailing the passage of the 2019 budget proposal at the Palace Tuesday night. The lawmakers reportedly failed to reach a consensus on the budget amid the controversial post-ratification budget realignments alleged by the senators.
“There is a budget impasse due to some constitutional questions raised by both chambers. Only Congress can resolve and break this impasse,” Panelo said in a statement.
“We call on the Senators and Representatives to break the stalemate and deliver to the Filipino people an appropriations law that can aid this government better their lives and help our country move forward,” he added.
He said the Executive branch has performed its constitutional task to submit its proposed budget, and now “awaits Congress to comply with its constitutional mandate to pass the same.”
“As soon as the enrolled bill on the budget is submitted to the President, the latter will perform his constitutional duty to scrutinize it and if he finds it in conformity with the constitutional demands, he will sign it,” he said.
But in the event the 2019 budget bill is not passed, Panelo guaranteed that the government would ensure the continued delivery of public services even under a reenacted budget.
“We assure the nation that the Administration, as we have previously stated, is prepared to cushion the impact of a reenacted budget. The delivery of public services to our countrymen will be maintained,” he said.
At present, Panelo said the Office of the President has not received the enrolled budget bill despite the approval of the measure by the bicameral conferee committee last month.
He noted that the Palace submitted the budget proposal as early as July 23, 2018, or 30 days before the deadline imposed by law.
“The Executive Branch threw its full support with its staff attending committee hearings to make sure that the legislative process would be unhampered and the appropriations bill approved on time,” he said.
Panelo also made clear that the President did not intervene in the budget stalemate between the two chambers of Congress.
“Consistent with the policy of non-interference with other co-equal branches of the government, at no instance that a presidential intervention was made despite delays on the deliberations on the GAB (General Appropriations Bill),” he said.