MANILA — Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be charged with falsification for signing the House of Representatives’ version of the 2019 budget containing amendments that were made after ratification, Senator Panfilo Lacson warned on Wednesday.
In an interview, Lacson said Arroyo signed the House version of the budget bill that was different from the bicameral conference committee report that both chambers of Congress had ratified.
He said Arroyo’s act is tantamount to “falsification of the records of the legislative process.”
“Since SGMA already signed the (House) version of the enrolled bill, she’s already prone to being charged with falsification because she’s already certified something that did not take place. Sine-certify mo ito approved sa plenaryo (You are certifying that this was approved in the plenary),” Lacson said.
“The act (of) signing a falsified document is already consummated. So any taxpayer can go to the Ombudsman or DOJ (Department of Justice) to file a criminal complaint against her for falsification,” he added.
Lacson warned Senate President Vicente Sotto III against signing the modified version of the budget measure as it violates the Constitution.
“We will not also allow our SP (Senate President) to be exposed to possible criminal charges or criminal investigation later on,” he said.
“Ang House, huwag nila kami pilitin mag-violate ng Constitution (The House should not force us to violate the Constitution),” Lacson added.
Sotto earlier said he will not sign an enrolled copy of the budget bill for the President’s signature if the lower chamber insists on its post-bicam amendments.
The proposed 2019 budget containing House amendments was already transmitted to the Senate for Sotto’s signature. Both signatures of the Speaker and the Senate President are needed before the measure can be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
Congressional leaders met with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night to resolve the ongoing budget impasse, but no consensus has been reached.
Lacson said his suggestion to revert to the ratified version of the 2019 budget was “favorably endorsed” by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to the President.
House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro, however, said House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. had reservations in retaining the bicam version of the budget bill with lump sum appropriations as this would be “unconstitutional.” Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA-northboundasia.com