MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives passed on Tuesday the P3.757-trillion national budget the Duterte administration proposed for 2019.
A total of 196 lawmakers voted in favor of passing the budget on third and final reading, while 8 voted against it.
The House plenary's approval of the budget comes ahead of its self-imposed Nov. 28 deadline and amid concerns that a reenacted budget may be implemented next year.
The bill has no proposed funding for the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The Commission on Elections had earlier set a plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL on Jan. 21, 2019.
The chamber is expected to transmit the approved budget to the Senate for review, just days before Congress goes on Christmas break.
Earlier, the Nov. 28 deadline had triggered calls from the Senate to elevate the budget to the upper chamber immediately to give senators ample time to scrutinize amendments the House had made to the President’s National Expenditure Program and prevent the re-enactment of the 2018 budget, which would put funds under the president’s discretion during an election year.
“What we have agreed upon, 'yung nakikita niyo sa diyaryo na (what you saw in the newspapers) [that we will pass it on] Nov. 28, was the worst case scenario, which we agreed with the Senate Finance Committee," House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said ahead of the budget approval.
"Wala nang delay (there is no more delay), just to allay the fears na magkakaroon ng (that there will be a) reenacted [budget] or we’re stalling. Wala pong ganun (there's nothing like that)... And to make it clear, we will not have a reenacted budget for next year,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday underlined his chamber's stand not to allow the hasty passage of the proposed 2019 national budget.
“We have to scrutinize. It's the people’s money. We cannot be complacent or reckless on its passage. It's not our fault if we suffer a reenacted budget,” he said in a text message.