Sotto sees passage of new budget before endJanuary

MANILA Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday assured that the Senate is "doing its best" to pass the proposed 2019 national budget as soon as possible.

He said legislators would hopefully bar any lastminute glitches in the deliberations or in the bicameral conference committee meeting and have it ready for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the month.

Sotto made the assurance after MalacaAang called on Congress anew to urgently pass the proposed PHP3.757trillion 2019 national budget.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo urged Congress to steer off partisan considerations and focus their attention to pass the proposed 2019 budget in service of the people.

We urgently call on Congress and graciously urge it to approve the general budget at the soonest possible time, otherwise delay in its approval will affect the release of the funds for the salary hike of soldiers, policemen, teachers and civilian employees, he said.

Further unreasonable delay on the part of Congress to approve the General Appropriation Bill that will throw a monkey wrench on the program of the administration will be unacceptable to the sovereign people that placed them in office, Panelo said.

Sotto, however, maintained that it was not the Senate's fault that the passage of the new budget was delayed.

The Palace knows the Senate is doing its best. Not our fault that the budget was submitted late, Sotto said in a text message to reporters.

The House of Representatives approved the spending bill on third and final reading only on November 20 and was transmitted to the Senate a week after for the senators' approval.

But senators refused to be rushed in their scrutiny of the budget.

The 2019 budget is still in the period of interpellation at the Senate floor when Congress went on recess last December 13.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance also assured that the Chamber will pass the budget soon.

"We resume January 14. We will pass it soon," Senator Loren Legarda said in a separate text message.

But for Senator Panfilo Lacson, a porkladen budget is far worse than a delayed or reenacted one.

Scrutinizing the national budget to get rid of excessive, unconscionable, unreasonable and irregular appropriations is not playing partisan politics. Rather, I consider it a patriotic duty of every legislator who wishes to be the vanguard of good governance through conscientious spending of the Filipino people's money, he said in a statement.

The national budget is the lifeblood of the country. Therefore, we must see to it that we do our role in making sure it serves its purpose and not just stuff the pockets of some insatiably greedy politicians, Lacson said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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