Duterte will not sign an illegal budget

By CNN Philippines Staff

President Rodrigo Duterte will not sign an illegal budget.

“I said my piece. I will not sign anything that would be an illegal document,” Duterte said at the awarding ceremony for outstanding women in law enforcement Monday night.

Congressmen and senators are at odds over the 2019 budget bill. Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said he would not sign the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to be transmitted to Malacañang for Duterte’s signature if the House of Representatives made changes after Congress approved its final version.

Government is currently operating on a reenacted budget amid the impasse, but Duterte warned it will impact the economy.

Magkaroon tayo ng slide sa GDP (gross domestic product) niyan [Our GDP will slide] if we are going to reenact the budget. And everybody will suffer including the law enforcement,” he added.

Malacañang earlier said reenacted budgets may further delay government projects. The Department of Transportation on March 6 said government failed to pay the required advanced payments for three key railway projects — the MRT-3 rehabilitation, the Metro Manila subway, and the Philippine National Railway Tutuban-Malalos railway — as the funds were listed under the 2019 GAA.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President will likely wait for the enrolled copy of the national budget, and use his veto powers if necessary.

“He will exercise his power to veto if he feels that, indeed, the budget to be given to him does not conform with the constitution,” Panelo said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairperson and Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said that both chambers of Congress itemized lump sum amounts in the P3.757 trillion budget for this year after its ratification. But senators have denied making amendments to the budget, and claimed these changes were illegal and unconstitutional.

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