Lawmakers: Reenacted budget may happen

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19) — Some senators believe a reenacted budget may happen because of the delay in the passage of the General Appropriations Bill at the House of Representatives.

This delay may not give senators enough time to look it over and pass the budget for next year.

A reenacted budget means the 2018 budget will be implemented again in 2019. This also means that there will be no new projects or allocations until a new budget has been passed.

Senators lamented the delay during the session Monday afternoon.

The House leadership earlier said they plan to approve the budget on third and final reading on November 28.

This would then leave the Senate just six session days to scrutinize and pass the budget before they go on a Christmas break.

Under the law, all budget bills must emanate from the House.

Senators agree it would be impossible to pass the budget in such a short time and they would rather take their time in scrutinizing the budget.

"We are blankly staring at that possibility because of the delay of House submission on the Senate. The way the Committee on Finance is saying the tentative schedule, there is indeed a possibility of re-enacted but all the way to January." said Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto.

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero meanwhile said six days was simply too short a time.

"One week is not enough. It would be impossible to pass, especially if passing general principles," he said.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it would be better if the Senate took the time to look over the bill more carefully.

"I don't think we should lose sleep over this. It's better if we analyze it carefully and approve it in January. Because this will become law and govern our finances for the next twelve months. We would not forgive ourselves if we rush it," he said.

Both Escudero and Drilon were former chairmen of the Senate finance committee.

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said he is favoring a reenacted budget and scrutinizing the budget is crucial.

"Let them suffer the consequences of their insertions. The reason for the delay is that there are too many insertions being made even as we speak. If we have a reenacted budget, their insertions are deemed deleted and it should not be on the Senate's account that the budget is not passed before the year ends

Senators are blaming congressmen for the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget.

Escudero said the change in leadership at the House of Representatives overhauled the budget. Lacson added the 2019 budget was prepared by the leadership of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

When Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took over, he said the projects in the budget meant for Alvarez and his allies were changed by the Arroyo leadership to favor her allies.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, meanwhile, believes the Arroyo leadership is trying to insert projects in the 2019 budget amounting to more than ₱100 billion.

"'Yung grupo ni GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) iba naman 'yan sa Davao group ni (President Rodrigo) Duterte. Maraming interest ngayon na nagca-clash. Kahit pare-parehas silang magkakampi in theory but in reality, iba't-iba interest ng mga 'yan," he said.

[Translation: GMA's group is different from Duterte's group. A lot of interests are clashing. In theory, they may be allies, but in reality they have different interests.]

Senators agreed once the budget has been transmitted to them next week, they will hold a caucus to finalize their decision.