Arroyo House allies overrule budget panel, realign P51.7-B in next year's budget

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2018 08:00 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2018 11:15 PM

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MANILA - Congressmen allied with House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo overruled on Tuesday the House body tasked with reviewing the proposed 2019 national budget. 

Flexing its numerical superiority, the House Leadership led its allies in overruling its own House Appropriations Committee and drafted a different committee report that will realign some P51.7 billion in the 2019 budget.

This move reverses House Appropriations Committee report 854 submitted last September 11, which recommended the approval of the executive’s budget proposal without amendments. 

After failing to begin plenary deliberations on the 2019 budget for a second straight day, congressmen converted the plenary session at around 4:00 p.m. into a Committee of the Whole that worked on the realignment of the funds.

Lawmakers realigned P51.7 billion in funds to disaster risk reduction, programs of the Department of Health, programs of the Department of Health, various road and other infrastructure projects across different regions.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, who led the motion, insisted that they were not challenging the Palace. 

This, after Appropriations Committee chair Karlo Nograles on Monday insisted on passing Malacañang's proposed budget.

“Our intention is not to destroy what the executive proposes but to strengthen it, to vet, validate and verify proposed funds because the budget is not as thin as a bank account,” Andaya said. 

Attempts by Makabayan lawmakers to interpellate were declared out of time and the committee report was approved in time for the start of plenary deliberations Wednesday.

"This will be the committee report which will be the basis for our committee hearings beginning tomorrow,” Andaya said. 

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the P51.7 billion in realigned funds were lump sums with no details, and were similar to pork barrel funds. 

"I am concerned that at this point no details are being provided as to the when and where, and the what the where,” Tinio said. 

Malacañang already said it will not interfere in the House budget feud.