URGENTLY PASS 2019 BUDGET, PALACE URGES CONGRESS
MANILA — Malacañang on Monday night called on the Congress anew to urgently pass the proposed PHP3.757-trillion 2019 national budget stressing that further delay would be “unacceptable” to the Filipinos who voted for them.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark asking the 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,” Panelo said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Panelo said the proposed budget’s swift passage was necessary as the country continues to face crisis and calamity one after the other, the most recent one being tropical depression “Usman” which wreaked havoc in the Bicol region.
He emphasized that the swift passage of the proposed budget “will merit approbation and accolade to all the members of Congress by a grateful nation.”
Aside from affecting the salary hike of government employees, Panelo also pointed out that the delayed passage of the proposed budget will also stall the commencement and continuation of infrastructure projects.
The proposed budget’s delay, he said, will also have an adverse effect on the efficient delivery of social services since maintenance and operating expenses will be impaired and new capital expenditures will be excluded.
Panelo reminded the Congress that the Executive Department submitted the proposed general budget on the very day that the President delivered his third State of Nation of Address (SONA) on July 23, 2018.
He said this is 29 days earlier than the maximum period required by the Constitution, precisely to give Congress the ample time to review it and make amendments thereto.
He stressed that it is their Constitutional duty to approve the proposed 2019 budget.
On Dec. 28, 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed a resolution extending the validity of the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Dec. 31, 2019.
Currently, the government has started operating under a reenacted budget on January 1 this year until the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is passed.
The Congress failed to pass the budget bill before the end of 2018 because of allegations of “pork” insertions in the 2019 budget.
Congress earlier vowed to speed up the passage of the budget bill when sessions resume on January 14. (PNA)
Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP/Philstar