Sotto points to 17th Congress for 2019 budget delay

MANILA — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday it was the House of Representatives in the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress that caused the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget, refuting statements from the current House leadership that the Senate was to blame for the delays.

In an interview, Sotto particularly pinned the blame to the sudden leadership change that ousted then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and installed former president turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Speakership.

Una, nagpalit sila ng leadership. Baka nakakalimutan nila na nagpalit din sila ng chairmanship. Baka nakakalimutan nila na imbis na i-submit sa amin by October 1 yung budget, sinubmit nila nung November 24 (First they changed leadership. They must have forgotten that they also changed chairmanships. They must have also forgotten that instead of submitting the budget to the Senate by October 1, they submitted it on November 24),” Sotto said.

The Senate leader pointed out that it was the late submission that was the root of the delay as the Senate cannot go through all its provisions before the Christmas break.

He said the last-minute insertions made by the House after the budget was ratified by both Chambers led to the impasse, which further delayed the budget approval.

“So paanong hindi sila ang may kasalanan ng delay? Baka nakalimutan na nila, o baka wala sila noon doon, kaya sinasabi nila yan (So how could they not be the cause of the delay? They are saying that because either they may have forgotten, or they were not there). But I am talking about the House of Representatives in the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress. Yung HOR na yun (That House),” Sotto said.

Sotto also defended Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for the cuts he proposed in the budget of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying the cuts were not part of the delay.

“A cut is completely different from the so-called delay. Nung ipinasa yun, pumayag naman ang House. Pumayag sila doon. Eh di sana sa bicam, sinabi nila na kulang (The House even approved it when it was passed. They agreed to it. They should have said it was not enough during the bicam),” Sotto said.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier agreed with another lawmaker that the mishaps being experienced in the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games were a result of the delay in the approval of its 2019 budget.

The Speaker echoed House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero’s statement that the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, is “partly to blame” for the delayed budget approval.

Cayetano noted that it was Drilon who moved to cut the budget for the SEA Games by 33 percent and have it transferred to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Pero siya (Drilon) ‘yung nagle-lead ng criticism (But it’s him now leading the criticisms),” Cayetano said.  Jose Cielito Reganit / PNA –