MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The House of Representatives will recall its enrolled version of the 2019 national budget to break an impasse prompted by allegations of fund manipulation, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III refused to sign the budget after Lacson claimed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo realigned P25 billion to favor certain lawmakers, which she denied.
In a meeting facilitated by President Rodrigo Duterte last week, Lacson suggested that the House take back the changes it made on the ratified budget.
Lacson said San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora called him to say that the lower chamber's leaders agreed with his proposal.
“Yesterday he gave me a call and he said na meron nang permiso o approval 'yung House leadership na ire-recall nila today and we’re watching if they’ll really recall or withdraw their version of the enrolled bill,” he told reporters at the groundbreaking of the new Senate office in Taguig.
(Yesterday he gave me a call and he said that the House leadership gave its permission or approval to recall it today.)
The Senate earlier suggested that the bicameral report on the proposed budget would retain lump sum appropriations, over which President Rodrigo Duterte will have the final say on whether or not to veto, said Lacson.
“We will discuss among ourselves saan dadalhin ang (where to bring the) vetoed amount,” he said.
Zamora later confirmed to ABS-CBN News that the House will revert the budget to its ratified version.
"Beyond that, nothing has been discussed or agreed between the two Houses of Congress. These are early days, so not much should be expected at this point," he said.
Sotto said he will ask the President to call for a special session "to pass a supplemental budget that will address the so-called 2-3 percent that’s debatable in the budget."
AN ADMISSION OF ERROR
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, in a text message, said the House's withdrawal of the budget "is a step in the right direction--a recognition of the correctness of the Senate's legal position."
Arroyo, however, maintained that the House's budget bill is constitutional.
"We would never put the President in the position of signing an unconstitutional bill. It’s the same process that was done even before I was Speaker, ever since the Supreme Court ruled that lump sums were unconstitutional," she said in a chance interview.
Zamora also tagged the withdrawal as a gesture of good faith.
"Well ayoko naman sabihin bumigay [kami]. Basically they wanted a sign of good faith in order to continue discussing at basically sinasabi nila nagpadala kayo ng ilang dokumento containing the enrolled bill as you see it. Eh kung pwede bawiin," he said.
(I don't want to say that we caved. Basically they wanted a sign of good faith in order to continue discussing and basically they said you sent some documents containing the enrolled bill as you see it. Perhaps you can take it back.)
"Wala naman problema 'yung bawiin because until the Senate President in fact signs that, that’s still not an enrolled bill," he added.
(There is not problem with withdrawing because until the Senate President in fact signs that, that’s still not an enrolled bill)
The government is currently running on a reenacted budget.
With reports from Robert Mano, RG Cruz and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News