Palace ‘concerned’ over budget impasse but insists on waiting

Published March 20, 2019, 12:00 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Philippine News Agency

MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday expressed concern anew over the ongoing budget impasse on the proposed PHP3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 but insisted on waiting for the two chambers of Congress to settle their differences.

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo disclosed this after House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo bared that the House will not be recalling its version of the 2019 national budget, contrary to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s earlier claim that it already did.

“We are concerned, but what can you do if they don’t want?” Panelo said in a Palace briefing, stressing that Palace has repeatedly urged them to speed up the passage of the budget bill.

“We’ve telling them to settle their differences, we urge them earnestly to pass the bill. We are telling them even that the people will not take it lightly if they continue to ignore the demands of the times,” he added.

However, Panelo said that there will be “no move from Malacañang”.

The House leadership has stood pat on its decision that the itemization they made on the lump sum appropriations of its version is legal and constitutional. However, Lacson claimed these realignments favored districts.

Panelo said he was personally getting impatient over the budget impasse but will have to ask President Rodrigo R. Duterte if he felt the same.

“Ako, naiinip. Tatanungin ko siya mamaya. May meeting kami mamaya e (Me, I’m getting impatient. But I’ll ask the President. We have a meeting later),” Panelo told reporters in a chance interview.

Duterte will soon have to submit the proposed 2020 budget before he delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.

Meanwhile, Panelo said Arroyo told him that she will be meeting with some lawmakers from both the House and Senate to discuss the proposed 2019 budget anew.

“I was with the Speaker an hour ago at an event in Shangri-La BGC and I asked her and she said that they are precisely meeting. I think this afternoon, precisely to tackle that. They are meeting today. That’s what she told me, there are meetings now, today. Let’s just wait for them,” he said.

Panelo said Arroyo also confirmed that it was San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora who is negotiating with the Senate on the budget impasse.

On March 12, lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on the proposed 2019 national budget despite meeting with the President to resolve the budget impasse.

The government has been operating on a reenacted budget since January 1 this year after lawmakers failed to pass the bill last year due to allegations of pork “insertions”.

The passage of the 2019 budget was delayed further due to allegations of realignments made by the House after both chambers of Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report.