IT WILL only be a matter of time before the House of Representatives comes around to approving the adjustments made by the Senate in the 2018 national budget.
Several senators expressed these sentiments on Friday, with one even downplaying the possibility of next year’s national budget being re-enacted, a move that may prevent programs from receiving increased funding.
“Why don’t you just watch it because they’ll give in,” Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said in Filipino, reacting to an earlier statement made by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, who said that the House “already agreed to take a hard stance” on the matter. The House leader also said that the chamber was willing to risk re-enacting the 2017 budget.
“Styles of negotiating differ from person to person,” Mr. Angara continued in Filipino. “With my lengthy experience in politics, I’ve seen those who talk tough who also give in at the end of the day.”
Asked if he wished for the Senate version to prevail, Sen. Angara said: “That’s our mandate as the Senate panel. We have to argue for the Senate version because that’s what the senators voted on. But given the reality, we cannot insist on it if there is no agreement.”
For his part, Sen. Ralph Recto downplayed the possibility of a reenacted budget.
“That’s not good for the country,” said Mr. Recto, a member of the Senate bicameral conference panel on the proposed 2018 budget. “It will be a P300-billion less budget, so I don’t expect a reenacted budget. Don’t take too much out of it. I’m confident that there will be an agreement.” Among the contentious provisions from the Senate’s 2018 budget version are the P50 billion budget cut for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) over issues of right-of-way acquisitions. That version also realigned P900 million for police and military housing, which was previously allotted for Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s war on illegal drugs.
The House has deliberated thoroughly on its proposed budget so it is not just going to relent to the demands of some senators, Speaker Alvarez said.
House appropriations committee chair Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said that the chamber will deliberate on the amendments the Senate made on the 2018 budget.
“We will not concur,” Mr. Nograles said. “We will talk about this. We will not just concur and concur.” — Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz and Arjay L. Balinbin