THE House of Representatives stood pat on its decision not to allow lump sum budgeting for the P3.767 trillion 2019 national budget.
In an interview, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that they will insist on the line item budgeting system, stressing that the Lower House will not put President Rodrigo Duterte in a bad light by making him sign an appropriations law that is unconstitutional.
“What we can say is that the process that we followed was constitutional. We would never put the President in a position of signing an unconstitutional bill,” Speaker Arroyo said.
“It’s the same process that was done even before I was Speaker ever since the Supreme Court ruled that lump sums are unconstitutional. We cannot agree to a lump sum allocation,” she added.
The Senate and the House remain in an impasse over the 2019 budget because the two chambers have disagreements on how to allocate funds for projects. The House wants the allocations to be itemized while the Senate insists on lump sum budgeting.
Arroyo meanwhile designated San Juan Rep. Ronnie Zamora to discuss the budget issue with the senators.
In a separate interview, Zamora clarified Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s claim that the House had recalled its version of the General Appropriations measure. He admitted he recalled the version of the House but it doesn’t mean that the Lower Chamber already agreed with the senators.
“Basically kinuha lang namin ang pinadala namin. Ano bang binibigay namin wala pa naman kaming napag-usapan? As you know we have not even begun to discuss the contents of the budget,” Zamora said.
Lacson made an interpretation that House is already withdrawing its version of the proposed bill.
But Zamora said they will stick to their decision not to agree with lump sum budget.
“Talaga namang itemize ang lump sum sapagkat sabi ng Supreme Court hindi kayo pwede magpasa ng budget with lump sums. You have to itemize and the appropriations leadership in the House says that is itemization. If the Senate says that is not itemization they should come up with specifics,” Zamora said.
For his part, chairman of the appropriations committee Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said that no congressman has the authority, without plenary approval, to order the recall of the enrolled form of any bill already transmitted to the Senate.
The 2019 GAB was approved in plenary at the House of the Representatives. The ratification of the bicameral conference report on the national budget was also made in plenary.
Andaya also said that the recall of the 2019 GAB must also be done in plenary session, with majority members of the House in approval.
“I really do not know what they are talking about. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I cannot undo an act authorized by the members of Congress. I am just one out of the 290. My powers come from them. A few senators cannot overturn an institutional act,” he said.