PLENARY DEBATES on the proposed 2019 budget were stalled at the House of Representatives on Monday amid a brewing conflict among the House leaders.
Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. said the committee report on House Bill 8196, Fiscal Year 2019 General Appropriations Bill, has not been endorsed to the plenary by the Rules Committee.
“(The) committee report is still being ironed out, ‘yung sinasabing ayaw niya pirmahan (the one he doesn’t want to sign),” Mr. Andaya told reporters in a press briefing, Monday, referring to Appropriations Committee Chair Karlo Alexei B. Nograles.
On the other hand, Mr. Nograles claims that the committee report had been prepared as early as last week.
“We’ve been ready and willing to defend this since… we approved the committee report last week,” Mr. Nograles said.
He also disclosed the House leaders had instructed him to conduct a committee meeting on Monday morning, ahead of the scheduled debates at 10:00 a.m.
“There was a meeting. They wanted me to conduct a committee hearing this morning. They wanted me to approve other committee report(s) which did not happen,” Mr. Nograles told reporters in an ambush interview.
Mr. Andaya, however, disputed Mr. Nograles, saying it was he who called the meeting.
“I think he’s the one who has the copy of the committee report… I cannot prepare a committee report for him. I’m not the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations. I can only suggest things to him,” the Majority Leader also said.
When asked when the chamber plans to resume plenary debates, Mr. Andaya said “hopefully, tomorrow morning we can start.”
Also on Monday, Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez said there were plans to oust Mr. Nograles from the Appropriations Committee.
“The minority leader cannot speak for the majority coalition, and has in fact already withdrawn his previous statement,” Mr. Nograles said in response.
“Be that as it may, if anybody wants to remove me as Chair of the Committee on Appropriations, then they can have the position, but they cannot be allowed to make the President break his promise to our people,” he added. — Charmaine A. Tadalan