Breaking the impasse

Rolando Andaya Jr.

NO backtracking. No withdrawal from position.

This was made clear by House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. as the House decided to get back the budget books that were sent to the senators.

Andaya also said they got instruction from Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to break the impasse between the House and the Senate over the budget within the next five days.

“The House leadership has dispatched the Secretary General to the Senate to physically retrieve the budget books that we sent to the senators,” Andaya said.

This is in line with the Speaker’s instruction to allow a last-ditch effort to break the budget impasse, he said.

The Speaker has also instructed the appropriations committee to form three-man House team that will meet with their Senate counterparts to address contentious issues on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill.

“We are giving ourselves five days to complete this task,” Andaya said.

But Andaya wanted to make it clear, though, that they are not withdrawing or backtracking from their earlier position.

The House of Representatives maintains that the line item budgeting system is  not unconstitutional, illegal or irregular.

The Senate prefers the lump sum budgeting system for the 2019 national budget amounting to P3.767 trillion.

“We hope that the contingents from the Senate and the House can agree to a common venue for a formal discussion on the issues and not debate on the merits of their position through the media,” Andaya said.

Magnificent 7 backs House budget version

The House decided to take back its version of the 2019 budget measure which it had earlier submitted to the Senate for the sake of the economy and the country, Rep. Edcel Lagman said.

In a statement, Lagman said “(t)he withdrawal by the House leadership of its endorsement to Senate President Vicente Sotto III of the enrolled appropriations bill is to show good faith for the holding of immediate meaningful dialogues to finally resolve the impasse, and spare the economy and the people of the detrimental and adverse effects of a prolonged reenacted budget.”

Speaking as the leader of the “Magnificent 7” opposition bloc in the House, Lagman added that “I am supporting the House version of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) because I find it completely constitutional and legal”.

He described the House version of the budget measure as “entirely compliant with the ratified bicameral conference committee report” and emphasized that he would never support any House action or measure “which violates the constitution and relevant statutes”. He said that the House version “is free from any constitutional or legal infirmities”.

Drawing on his experience as a former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Lagman said that “traditionally and invariably, what the bicameral conference committee approves are the respective expenditure ceilings of the departments and agencies, but the Senate and the House are authorized separately to complete the details within the ceilings”.

He emphasized that “the House version did not breach the approved ceilings.”