By Vanne Terrazola
Senator Panfilo Lacson said congressmen should settle among themselves their flip-flopping stance on the 2019 national budget.
Lacson, on Monday afternoon, reacted to House Appropriations Committee chair and Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.’s denial of the supposed agreement by House leaders to finally recall the revised 2019 budget bill from the Senate and revert to the bicameral-approved version.
The senator earlier announced that the Lower Chamber will withdraw the spending bill that contained its supposed itemizations of the P3.757-trillion expenditure program for this year.
He cited a recent discussion with San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who was assigned by House Speaker Gloria Arroyo to talk to the Senate and solve the budget deadlock.
But Andaya, in a statement commenting on Lacson pronouncements, said he has yet to be consulted on the alleged decision by the House, stressing that a recall of the 2019 GAB may only be done in plenary.
“The Lower House may have to resolve this issue among themselves. I’ve known Cong. Zamora for a long time and I have no reason to doubt or question the truthfulness of his proposition that he has been authorized by Speaker Arroyo to negotiate with us in breaking the budget impasse,” Lacson told reporters in a text message when asked about Andaya’s denial.
He maintained that Zamora assured him repeatedly that the House will withdraw their proposed enrolled bill, dismissing Andaya’s statements as a “speculation”.
“Whatever the issue, there is a simple answer to a simple question: are they withdrawing their version of the “draft Enrolled Bill” or not? Well, Cong Zamora has already answered that. They will withdraw. Everything else is speculation,” he said.
“Cong Zamora said [they will withdraw] today and he reiterated it just an hour ago,” he repeated.
Last week, the House transmitted to the Senate the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which included its supposed itemizations of lump sum appropriations in the budget.
Senate President Vicente Sotto II refused to sign the document for enrolment to the Palace, insisting on his and Lacson’s accusation that House leaders made post-ratifications realignments in the 2019 outlay, and not “itemizations” as Andaya had explained.
As of writing, the Lower Chamber has indeed yet to recall the House-transmitted GAB, according to Sotto.