CONFIDENT THAT the bicameral conference committee will meet its Feb. 6 deadline on the budget bill ratification, Deputy Speaker Prospero A. Pichay, Jr. said on Monday that the “no-el” (no election) scenario in May is unlikely.
“Gusto namin ng halalan (We want an election), so don’t worry, the scenario of a re-enacted budget was explained but to the scenario that there will be no election, that’s out of the question. There will be an election,” Mr. Pichay, who represents the 1st district of Surigao del Sur, said in a briefing on Monday.
The committee has until Wednesday to ratify the P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Bill for 2019 as Congress is set to adjourn on Feb. 6 until May 19 for the election period.
The Commission on Elections last week raised concerns that a reenacted budget will pose a problem in the compensation of teachers who will administer the polls in May.
In another issue, Mr. Pichay clarified that the approval of the proposed 2019 National Budget will not be “tied up” with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) report on the 2018 savings.
“It doesn’t have to be tied up dito sa (with the) approval ng (of the) 2019 budget, anytime we can ask them to submit because we have the oversight function,” he said, as opposed to an earlier statement of Rep. Rolando G. Andaya, Jr., appropriations committee chair
Mr. Andaya of Camarines Sur-1st District, in a statement over the weekend, said he wants DBM Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno to submit the report on the remaining balance of the 2018 national budget in exchange for the approval of the committee report on the 2019 budget bill.
On Monday, however, Mr. Andaya backtracked saying he will push through with the budget proceeding despite his earlier threat.
“We can no longer wait for Secretary Diokno’s report on the DBM’s pork report. The time for passing the 2019 national budget is running short. We will go on with the approval of the budget as scheduled,” he said in a statement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan