Sotto signs 2019 budget with ‘reservations’

MANILA — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said he has signed the enrolled copy of the proposed 2019 national budget, but expressed “strong reservations” due to the PHP75 billion worth of post-ratification realignments made by the House of Representatives.

In a press conference, Sotto said the signed budget bill has already been transmitted to the Palace for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

“We are informing you that I already signed the budget, the enrolled copy, it is now going to be an enrolled bill presented to the President. I placed my reservations on the signature,” Sotto told reporters.

Sotto said he attached an annotation, saying he finds as “unconstitutional” the PHP75 billion worth of programs and projects that was realigned by the House to some favored districts after the budget bill was ratified.

“I affixed my signature with strong reservations. My attestation is limited only to those approved by the bicameral conference committee and ratified by both houses of Congress,” Sotto said in his letter to the President.

“In particular, it is my view that it is unconstitutional that PHP75 billion worth of programs/projects under the local infrastructure program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was funded through internal realignments after the bicameral conference committee report was ratified,” Sotto added.

Sotto said the realigned cuts were from the DPWH’s appropriations for its Organizational Outcome 1 (asset preservation program, network development program and bridge program) and Organizational Outcome 2 (flood management program and convergence and support program).

Sotto suggested to the President to consider disapproving these unconstitutional realignments pursuant to his constitutional power to veto particular items in the General Appropriations Act.

Sotto’s signing of the budget measure has the support of both the minority and majority blocs. PNA –