(Eagle News) – After a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the budget impasse Tuesday night (March 12), the House of Representatives seemed to have “acquiesced” to stick to the previous bicam-approved version of the P3.757-trillion budget, according to Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Speaking to reporters about the meeting, Sotto said that President Duterte had stressed to both the House and Senate leaders that he would not sign the budget if it is not approved by the Senate.
After the meeting, the House leaders led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo “appeared to have acquiesced” to this proposal to revert to the bicam-approved budget, Sotto said.
“The President wanted to resolve the impasse. He opened the dialogue by saying he will not sign the budget if I do not sign it,” the senate noted.
“After some words from both sides, Senator Lacson suggested that the HOR recall the enrolled copy they sent and revert back to the bicam report that both houses approved,” he said.
“The President and members of the executive department concurred. HOR appeared to have acquiesced but we have yet to see if they will follow the agreement,” Sotto said.
But Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said that both the House and Senate leaders still failed to arrive at a consensus after President Duterte left the meeting.
“We still met while the president had left but there’s still no consensus unfortunately,” Zubiri said.
Even after both the Senate and the House approved the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget on February 8, the lower House was still itemizing and “fleshing out lump sum funds.”
“The House is itemizing the appropriations therein, fleshing out lump sum funds, without departing from the approved specifications of the House-Senate approved budget, and by so doing make the budget more transparent and easy to scrutinize,” Andaya said in an earlier statement on March 5.
The Senate said that what the House was doing was illegal and unconstitutional, especially since the budget had been already approved in the bicam.
The President also had earlier issued a statement that he would not sign an ‘”illegal” budget.
Sotto also said that he will not sign the 2019 national budget if there are changes made by the House after it had already been ratified.