House not likely to pass 2019 Budget before recess

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congress House of Representative

THE P3.757-TRILLION Budget Bill for 2019 is unlikely to hurdle the House of Representatives ahead of the Oct. 12 recess.

House Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez of the third district of Quezon confirmed that House Bill 8169, or the Fiscal Year 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), will not be taken up on third reading during Wednesday’s session, the last session day before Congress resumes on Nov. 12.

“No, not a chance,” Mr. Suarez said in a briefing Wednesday, when asked by reporters if the bill will be considered at the plenary.

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman of the first district of Albay said “it (budget) will not be taken up today.”

“This will be taken up after we come back from our Halloween break on the 2nd week of November,” Mr. Lagman told reporters.

Mr. Suarez and Mr. Lagman are both members of the Small Committee constituted to receive and resolve amendments from other lawmakers.

The Small Committee was created following the second-reading approval of the budget on Oct. 3 after 11 days of deliberation. The Committee had earlier set the deadline for proposed amendments on Oct. 9.

The panel also includes Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. of the first district of Camarines Sur, Maria Carmen S. Zamora of the first district of Compostela Valley, Federico S. Sandoval II of Malabon, Corazon N. Nuñez-Malanyaon of first district of Davao Oriental and COOP NATCCO Rep. Anthony M. Bravo.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Speaker in a statement said President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night made a request to Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo to include in the budget housing projects for the police and the military, among others.

“President Duterte also requested Speaker Arroyo to include in the 2019 budget the funding for the housing projects for the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police and the water system for the housing project for the victims of Yolanda,” the statement read.

In its last version, the education sector, infrastructure and local government had the biggest share of the budget.

Some P659.3 billion is allocated for the education sector; P555.7 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways and P225.6 billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government. — Charmaine A. Tadalan