By Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Geducos
President Duterte has certified the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 to avoid a repeat of the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget that adversely affected the administration’s economic program and delivery of services to the public, Malacañang said.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President certified the bill as urgent to remind lawmakers of the effects of a re-enacted budget on the country.
The President sent letters to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano certifying “the necessity of the immediate enactment” of House Bill No. 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
The budget letter from the President was received by Cayetano’s office late Wednesday afternoon.
“Yes, certified already. We learned lessons from last year,” Presidential Legislative Liaison Office head Adelino Sitoy said in a text message.
In his letters to the Congress leaders, the President sought the passage of the new budget to “address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current year fiscal year.”
It would also “expedite the funding of various programs, projects and activities for FY 2020, and to ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its Constitutional mandate,” Duterte said.
“In certifying the urgency of the budget bill, PRRD wants to convey to the members of Congress the importance of passing the General Appropriations Bill on time to avoid a repeat of a re-enacted budget that wreaked havoc on the economic program of this administration, affected the timely delivery of basic services to the people, and ultimately, slowed our growth during the first quarter of this year,” Panelo said.
“Government operations must never be hampered and our constitutional mandate to serve the Filipino people must prevail over partisan considerations and constant differences or varying interpretations on the budget,” he added.
The government operated on a re-enacted budget for the first four months of 2019 following accusations about insertions in the budget among the lawmakers.
Duterte signed the P3.757-billion 2019 budget in April this year but vetoed P95.3 billion in items of appropriations in the details of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Programs/Projects, which were not within the programmed priorities.
The President said that operating under a re-enacted budget would have adverse effects on the country’s economy, with the country’s gross domestic product taking a dip, and law enforcement would also suffer.
On Wednesday, House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Rep. Joey Salceda expressed confidence that the Lower House would pass the proposed 2020 budget before the end of the month.
He also said that each congressman will have an allocation of P100 million for projects for their districts, P70 million of which will be for infrastructure projects, while the remaining P30 million for soft programs like medical assistance.
Salceda said the allocations were determined by the Executive Department which submitted the proposed budget to Congress last month for its scrutiny.