By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles is confident that the House of Representatives will still support President Duterte’s legislative agenda even after the Chief Executive vetoed over P95 billion of their insertions in the 2019 national budget.
Nograles made the statement after Duterte signed without fanfare the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on Monday, while vetoing P95.3-billion infrastructure funds because they are not part of his program priorities.
In a press briefing before their Holy Week break, Nograles said that the House of Representatives will not retaliate because Duterte is only doing his job of making sure that the budget is constitutional.
“We don’t see any retaliation from Congress. Wala namang personalan dito (It’s nothing personal),” he said on Holy Wednesday.
“The President just did what he believed is correct and legal given the situation,” he added.
Nograles then said that they remain hopeful that Congress will still support pending priority measures of the Duterte administration.
“We’re still hopeful ano ang (that the) low-hanging fruits—Kumbaga (I mean), in terms of legislative agenda will get signed especially those third reading na lang or bicam na lang (which are already in the final reading or already in the bicameral conference committee already),” he said.
Among the legislative agenda of the Duterte Administration are ending contractualization, and excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol which will fund the government’s universal health care program.
After three months of being delayed, Duterte signed the budget on Monday but vetoed certain items of appropriations in public works projects.
On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the vetoed provisions were “unconstitutional,” saying “unprogrammed” funds violate the Constitution.
“Those are the so-called insertions/riders. They are not part of the program by the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), hence it violates the Constitution,” he said.
“They are in violation of the Constitution, whether you call it pork or beef or meat, or fish… those provisions are violative of the basic charter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Duterte also subjected to conditional implementation the allowance and benefits of teachers and creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects, revolving fund, and lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, as well as financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements of our foreign service, among others.
According to Panelo, the Duterte’s decision to veto provisions in the 2019 budget is a show of his strong stand against any form of corruption.