House retrieves budget books from Senate

MANILA The House of Representatives has retrieved the budget books it submitted to the Senate in a last-ditch effort to end the budget impasse within five days, the chair of the House Committee on Appropriations said Wednesday.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya said the House leadership has dispatched Acting House Secretary-General Roberto Maling to the Senate to physically retrieve the budget books.

This is in-line with Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's instruction to allow a last-ditch effort to break the budget impasse, Andaya said.

The Speaker has also instructed us to form a three-man House team that will meet with their Senate counterparts to address contentious issues on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB). We are giving ourselves five days to complete this task, he added.

The House panel will be composed of Andaya, San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

However, Andaya clarified that the House is not withdrawing or backtracking from its earlier position.

We maintain that the House did nothing unconstitutional, illegal or irregular when we approved and ratified the 2019 GAB in plenary session, he said.

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.

Lagman also expressed full support to the House version of the 2019 GAB.

Lagman, who leads the opposition bloc at the House, stressed that the House version is completely constitutional and legal.

A lawyer, Lagman said he will not support any House action or measure which violates the Constitution and relevant statutes.

The House version is free from any constitutional or legal infirmities, he said.

Being a former chair of the Appropriations Committee, Lagman pointed out that what the bicam approved are the respective expenditure ceilings of the departments and agencies.

The Senate and the House are authorized to complete the details within the ceilings, and the House version did not breach the approved ceilings, Lagman said.

He said the retrieval of the House leadership of the appropriations measure from the Senate is a show of good faith for the holding of dialogues.

It is to show good faith for the holding of immediate, meaningful and sober dialogues to finally resolve the impasse, and spare the economy and the people of the detrimental and adverse effects of a prolonged reenacted budget, Lagman said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency