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Palace: Duterte may sign 2019 national budget after Lenten break

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may sign the long-delayed 2019 national budget proposal after the Lenten break, Malacañang said on Thursday (April 11).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President is still reviewing the 2019 General Appropriations Act which was transmitted to his office late March.

“Kinalendar na pero pinag-aaralan niya [Duterte], baka after holy week,” Panelo said.

(It has been calendared already but he is still reviewing it. Maybe after Holy Week.)

Panelo’s statement came after Malacañang, on Wednesday, released the President’s tentative schedule of activities on April 15 which includes the signing of the P3.737-trillion budget.

The Palace official said the schedule was moved as the President is still reviewing the bill. It also remains unclear if Duterte vetoed any item on the budget proposal.

Panelo also made clear that the President’s schedule could still change anytime.

“Naka-calendar tapos tinanggal sa calendar, eh di pwede rin ibalik di ba? Lahat ng schedule niya [Duterte] subject to change without prior notice” he added.

(It was calendared but was later removed so we can still put it back right? His schedule is subject to change without prior notice.)

The approval of the budget was delayed for months due to an impasse between lawmakers over the alleged insertions and realignments made by the House of Representatives after the bill was ratified by both chambers of Congress.

The government has been running on a reenacted budget since January after the Congress failed to pass the proposed 2019 spending program on time.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III had signed a copy of the enrolled bill late March with “strong reservations,” maintaining that the P75-billion worth of projects under the local infrastructure program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) funded through the “internal realignments” were “unconstitutional.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya, Jr. had slammed Sotto’s “unwarranted” move and accused the Senate of cutting down funds for infrastructure projects.

READ: Andaya hits Sotto’s “strong reservations” in signing 2019 budget bill

The administration’s economic advisers have earlier warned that if the government continues to operate on a reenacted budget, the country’s economic growth could slow to 4.2 to 4.9 percent from 6.2 percent in 2018. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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BJMP on red alert until Saturday

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is on red alert status to ensure the safety and security of jails during the Lenten week.

The measure is in view of the expected surge of visitors this holiday, according to BJMP director Allan Iral.

“I directed all our regional directors to supervise their jurisdictions to accommodate visitors and prevent any untoward incident,” he said.

Meanwhile, the official said the leave privileges of the BJMP personnel manning all 476 jails across the country are cancelled during the Lenten break.

Iral also directed wardens to intensify security and safety measures by conducting incident management or contingency plans in case of any untoward incidents while some inmates participate in Lent-related activities.

The jail official said the red alert status would be in effect starting Wednesday (April 17) until Saturday (April 20). – Marje Pelayo

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Malacanang details vetoed line items in 2019 budget

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the 2019 General Appropriations Act at the Malacañan Palace on April 15, 2019. (King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

Malacanang has released the details of the line items in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

This, after the Chief Executive signed the Republic Act 11260 or the P3.757 Trillion General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on Tuesday, April 16.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President did not approve the last-minute insertions made by the House of Representatives in the national budget.

The vetoed provision of the budget are the line items under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects worth P95.374 billion, which Malacanang said violates the constitution.

The Palace pointed out that such projects are not in the priority program of the Duterte Administration.

“Those are the so-called insertions/ riders. They are not part of the program by the DPWH; hence, it violates the constitution. It’s violative of the constitution,” Panelo said.

Read: Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

Senator Panfilo Lacson has earlier disclosed that last minute realignments had been made in the budget for the benefit of several lawmakers who are allies of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Sec. Panelo reiterated what he calls as a very clear message by the President in signing the national budget.

“The message is you always follow the constitution. Any deviation from the constitution will not be approved by the President or will not be tolerated,” said Panelo.

Aside from the vetoed items, other provisions in the national budget shall be subjected to “conditional implementation in order to ensure conformity with existing laws, rules and regulations.”

Among them are the allowance and benefits of teachers and creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects, revolving fund, and lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, as well as financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements of the country’s foreign service.  – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday urged Malacañang to bare the details of the provisions in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. made the call after Duterte signed the 2019 General Appropriations Act but vetoed more than P95 billion items of appropriations in the details of the projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

READ: Duterte signs P3.7-T national budget for 2019

Andaya said the Palace should reveal the details of the vetoed provisions “in the interest of transparency and for the guidance of the public.”

“I urge Malacañang to release the President’s veto message in full immediately so that we can base our reaction on the official document,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker also hinted that the Senate’s alleged pork barrel remains intact in the newly-signed 2019 budget, saying this could be the reason why Senators are in celebratory mood over the deletion of the House amendments amounting to P95.3 billion.

“My friends in the Senate are going to town claiming victory over the deletion of the House amendments. Does this mean that the Senate port remains intact? Could this be the reason for their celebratory mood?” Andaya said.

The solon also argued that the President’s veto on several items in the budget could be “conditional” in nature.

“I believe that the veto being speculated about is of the conditional kind.  As such, the appropriation remains but its release is subject to conditions,” he said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a text message on Monday that Duterte vetoed some parts in the budget that were not part of the administration’s “programmed priorities.”

Andaya has been insisting that the realignments they made were not post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report and did not exceed the expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.

He also said that Senate President Vicente Sotto’s signing of the budget bill with strong reservations was ill-advised and baseless.

READ: Andaya hits Sotto’s “strong reservations” in signing 2019 budget bill 

Meanwhile, Senators have expressed relief with the signing of the budget and commended Duterte for vetoing the questionable insertions in the 2019 spending program.   

“I am relieved that the 2019 budget has finally been signed, primarily because further delay would have caused adverse effects on our macroeconomy,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement.

“The veto is proof that the Senate was right all along in saying that the changes made were unconstitutional,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also lauded Duterte’s move, calling the signing of the “pork-free” national budget a “victory for Filipino taxpayers.”

“If there is one act of PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) that is worthy of admiration, this veto message is on top of my list,” Lacson added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also believes that Duterte’s decision to reject the P95-billion items of appropriations is constitutional.

“The President’s line item veto is based on legal and constitutional grounds, and not because the President sided with the Senate,” Drilon said.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, urged her colleagues and the public to be alert to ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be spent accordingly.

“Magbantay tayo para matiyak na ang huling piso ay sa kapakanan ng taumbayan mapupunta,” she said.

(We should be on guard to ensure that the last peso will be spent on the public’s welfare.) – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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