MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday blamed the House of Representatives for the delayed passage of the 2019 national budget, which some members of the chamber claimed to have led to woes in the country’s preparations for the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and 1PACMAN Party List rep. Mikee Romero earlier blamed Sen. Franklin Drilon for the budget delay, saying the senator proposed cutting funds for the SEA Games by about a third, and to move it under the country's sports body.
But Sotto said the House submitted the proposed national budget to the Senate about two months later than the target date.
“Una, nagpalit sila ng leadership. Baka nakakalimutan nila na nagpalit din sila ng mga chairmanship. Baka nakakalimutan nila na imbes na i-submit sa amin by October 1 yung budget, sinubmit nila nung November 24. Ano ang magagawa namin in less than a month?” the Senate President told reporters.
(First, they changed leadership. They may have forgotten that they changed chairmanships. They may have forgotten that instead of submitting to us the budget on October 1, they passed it to us on November 24. What can we do in less than a month.)
He also said that after the proposed national budget was ratified, the House made realignments.
“May ginalaw sila. Baka nakakalimutan nila, hindi lang P75 billion ang nakita namin, P95 billion ang nakita ng Presidente na i-veto. So paanong hindi sila ang may kasalanan ng delay?” Sotto said.
(They changed something. They may have forgotten that we did not only see a change worth P75 billion but also P95 billion, which the President saw and vetoed.)
He stressed that neither the Senate nor Drilon can be blamed for the delay in the 2019 budget.
“Medyo nasaktan lang sila doon sa pintas siguro ni Sen. Drilon tungkol siguro du’n sa cauldron. Siguro ganun lang ‘yun kaya parang binabalikan nila si Sen. Drilon. Pero in fairness, it was the idea of Sen. Drilon kaya natapos yung impasse nung 2019 budget,” Sotto said.
(They may have been hurt by Sen. Drilon's statements against the cauldron. That may be, because they keep getting at Sen. Drilon. But, in fairness, it was Sen. Drilon behind the end of the 2019 budget impasse.)
Drilon earlier questioned the P50 million-worth cauldron that will bear the symbolic Southeast Asian Games flame to be lit during the opening ceremonies.
Sotto also defended the move to slash the budget for the SEA Games, saying they used to work with a lesser budget when he participated in the SEA Games before.
“'Yung cut, siguro, ang sense noon ni Sen. Legarda ay tanggapin ang suggestion ni Sen. Drilon na sobra yung P7.5 billion. At noong ipinasa ‘yun, pumayag naman ang House ah. Pumayag sila doon. Eh di sana sa bicam sinabi nilang kulang,” Sotto said.
(The cut was pushed by Sen. Legarda after Sen. Drilon's suggestion that P7.5 billion for the Games was extravagant. When that decision was passed, the House accepted it. They accepted that. So, they should have mentioned that it was lacking, during the bicameral session.)
“Binigyan mo ng P6 billion, aba dapat magpasalamat sila. Sapagkat noong araw, kami hindi nabibigyan ng ganun,” he added.
(You give us P6 billion in the old days, we will be grateful. Before, we were not given that kind of budget.)
Some foreign sports delegations complained of awful accommodations and delayed transportation after their arrival in the Philippines.
Pictures of foreign athletes waiting for hours for transportation at the airport and their rooms at their respective hotels also circulated online.
Photos of inadequate food served to the athletes and unfinished venues also went viral.