MANILA, Philippines – Rolando Andaya Jr, chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, said senators should not criticize them for itemizing the proposed P4.5 billion budget for health facilities after the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the 2019 budget.
Why? Because, Andaya said, senators supposedly did the same.
“Let me make it clear: Lahat no’ng sinubmit ng Senadong detalye (All the details submitted by the Senate) came after the ratification. So did our list [as it] came after the ratification of the bicam. I really don’t see the difference here,” said the Camarines Sur 1st District representative on Monday, March 11.
He briefly showed reporters a copy of the first page of the list containing the budget itemization done by senators. But Andaya refused to release the rest of the documents until after President Rodrigo Duterte signs the 2019 budget into law.
Andaya’s office also gave reporters a copy of an attendance sheet containing the names of members of the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office who submitted the senators’ budget itemization to the House on February 11, 3 days after Congress ratified the 2019 budget on February 8.
LOOK: Andaya's office releases copy of attendance sheet listing names of Senate staff who supposedly submitted to the House senators' itemization under the 2019 budget pic.twitter.com/wSqCJSmxMk — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) March 11, 2019
Andaya said when the House itemized the health facilities fund, each congressional district was allocated a specific amount depending on its needs, but the overall amount still followed what was approved during the bicam. (READ: Andaya: 'Nothing illegal’ in itemizing health budget post-ratification)
The itemization process has further delayed the passage of the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019. The government is still operating on a reenacted budget from 2018 after Congress failed to pass this year's budget before December 31, 2018.
Andaya called for the press conference on Monday amid Senator Panfilo Lacson’s accusation the House itemized the funds and gave P25 million to House members who supported Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s speakership and P8 million to those who did not.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III himself said on Monday the House should have itemized these items before Congress ratified the bicam report on February 8. He said he would not sign the budget if the contents prove to be different from the one the Senate had ratified.
Andaya said he does not understand senators’ argument that “you cannot do anything after the ratification,” arguing the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that deemed as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers covers only the post-enactment stage of the budget process.
“The Supreme Court decision states post-enactment, meaning to say may batas na. Wala pa tayong batas ngayon (meaning to say there's a law already. We don't have a law yet.) It’s only when the President signs it [that] this law applies,” said Andaya.
The SC had declared discretionary lump sum funds unconstitutional amid the pork barrel scandal in 2013. – Rappler.com