By Genalyn Kabiling
The House of Representatives is expected to approve the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 by Friday without any unlawful insertion and pork barrel.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, made the assurance on Wednesday during a press conference in Malacañang.
“The 2020 budget, I’m sure will be approved by September 20. The earliest approved budget at the House in history,” he said during the Palace press conference.
“Why September 20? Because we got it on August 20. This is in history for those of you who have covered Congress, this will be the earliest. We just want to prove that the Duterte super coalition in the House is working,” he added.
Salceda assured the public that the House version of the 2020 budget neither has pork barrel nor illegal insertions.
“It is pork-free based on Supreme Court standards,” he said, citing a court ruling that declared the discretionary pork barrel funds as unconstitutional.
He confirmed through the P100-million allocation for the projects in every congressional district in the proposed budget. Of these funds, at least P70 million would reportedly be allocated for infrastructure projects while the rest for social service projects that are itemized in the proposed 2020 National Expenditure program.
“Ang alam ko po diyan, to ensure na everybody has some minimum, 100 yes,” he said.
“But that’s basically P70 million ng infrastructure and they were itemized in the NEP. Well, there is no such thing as non-itemized expenditure,” he added.
He admitted that there were “institutional amendments” introduced to support education, health, and the military. “Trust me, only three and they’re not like billions,” he said.
Asked if there were budget insertions that caused the delay of the 2019 outlay, Salceda said: “Except for these three, same comma, same semi-colon, same capital T.”
“What you see is what you get. What we got is what we will give,” he said.
He expressed hope that the Senate would also facilitate the timely approval of the budget proposal without any institutional amendment.
“I hope the so-called ‘Duterte super coalition of 20’ in the Senate will do the same,” he said.
“I’m posing it as a challenge to the Senate. We don’t have individual amendments, they shouldn’t have institutional amendments,” he added.
The government operated on a reenacted budget early part of the year after the 2019 budget approval was delayed by lawmakers’ deliberations on alleged irregularities and last-minute insertions. Malacañang has expressed hope there will be no repeat of the reenacted budget that disrupted public spending and affected economic growth.