MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Thursday to veto in whole the proposed P3.7 trillion national budget for this year, saying he would “not hesitate” to reject it if he finds irregularities.
“Ang budget kaka-submit lang. I have to sign it pagbalik ko, pinag-aaralan pa. Ngayon, ’pag talagang tagilid ’yan, I will outright veto the entire budget,” he said in a speech in Bacolod City.
(The budget was just submitted. I have to sign it when I return to work, It is still being studied. Now, if the budget has irregularities, I will outright veto the entire budget.)
“ ’Pag tagilid talaga, I will not hesitate to veto the entire budget. Pasensya tayong lahat,” he added.
Budget deliberations were stalled in Congress as lawmakers wrangled over alleged insertions in the national budget.
The government has been running on a reenacted 2018 budget since the start of the year after lawmakers failed to agree on the spending plan last year.
“Hindi magkasundo ang Congress at saka Senado, at ’yung mga insertion diyan titingnan ko,” Duterte said of the proposed budget.
(Congress and Senate couldn't agree on the budget and I would look at the insertions there.)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who approved the budget with “strong reservations,” earlier asked Duterte to veto parts of the budget that he finds “unconstitutional,” particularly the alleged P75 billion in pork barrel insertions.
The amount was earlier questioned by House of Representatives members as an alleged insertion by former budget secretary and now Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno into the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, delaying deliberations. Diokno denied any irregularity in the budget increase.
The delay in the passage of the national budget threatens to slow the country’s economic growth to 4.2 percent from 4.9 percent if a reenacted budget is implemented for the entire year according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
Malacañang had initially scheduled the ceremonial signing of the budget on Monday, April 15, but backtracked on Thursday, saying the ratification may push through after the Holy Week break.