MANILA -- Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday clarified that the House of Representatives has not withdrawn its version of the 2019 budget, reiterating that the lump sum appropriations favored by senators are unconstitutional.
“No, we have not withdrawn our version. We’re in discussions about what is the proposed new version,” Arroyo said in an ambush interview at the sidelines of the Nickel Initiative 2019 Forum of the Philippine Nickel Association at the BGC in Taguig City.
The former president said she will meet with San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and other House members later in the day to discuss the issue.
Zamora was tasked by the House to negotiate with the Senate to break the budget impasse that had forced the government to operate under a reenacted budget for three months now.
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.
“We will insist on no lump sum because that (lump sums) is what is unconstitutional. That’s what we will insist, no lump sum. Now, as to the details, that’s the one that we’ll see,” she said.
"If we don’t come to an agreement and then (Senate President) Tito Sotto does not sign the bill, then there’s no bill to send to the President. So I do not know if we will but I would wish we would,” Arroyo said.
Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed that the House, through Zamora, has agreed to withdraw their version of the 2019 appropriations measure that they submitted to the Senate.
This was immediately rebutted by Arroyo and other House members.
Arroyo maintained that the House submitted a legal and valid national budget, noting that the House leadership would not allow President Rodrigo Duterte to sign into law an appropriation measure that is unconstitutional. (PNA)
Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler