Senate won’t accept House version of budget: Sotto

MANILA Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said the Senate will stand firm on its position not to accept the House of Representatives version of the proposed 2019 national budget, which allegedly contained post-ratification realignments.

Sotto made the statement after Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo clarified that the House has not yet withdrawn its version of the 2019 budget, contrary to Senator Panfilo Lacson's claim.

We stand firm to what we have already said, and what we have decided, and that is we cannot agree to something that is violative of Article 170 of the Revised Penal Code which is falsification of legislative documents. It's as simple as that, Sotto said.

Sotto stressed that the realignment of funds in the budget after both chambers of Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report is not allowed.

He earlier noted that there is a difference between itemizing, which is to present as a list of individual items; and realigning, which is to change or restore to a different state.

They already itemized even before they ratified and those that they were not able to itemize, they itemized after ratification which is allowed, but you cannot internally realign and that is what they did, and that is what we don't want to allow, Sotto said.

As far as we are concerned, we do not want to join them in that particular realignment. And if we do approve what we are going to send to the President, it is not what we approved. It is not what the Senate approved, he added.

He said the government will likely continue operating under a reenacted budget until August if the House leadership refuses to withdraw and revert to the ratified version of the budget bill.

Arroyo, meanwhile, stressed that the House will stand its ground on itemizing the lump sum items in the budget since the Supreme Court has already ruled against lump sums.

The former president said she will meet with San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who was tasked to negotiate with the Senate on the budget impasse, and other House members later in the day to discuss the issue. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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