By Azer Parrocha, PNA
MANILA — After long delays in its passage, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has finally signed the 2019 national budget, Malacañang said on Monday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed to reporters through a text message that the budget has indeed been signed by the chief executive.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also confirmed this, describing the newly signed General Appropriations Act as a “reflection” of the Duterte administration’s priorities.
“The Palace wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has already signed Republic Act No. 11260, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” Panelo said in a statement sent late Monday night.
“The 2019 GAA is the reflection of the Administration’s vision of genuine change for the Philippines, where effective and efficient delivery of programs, projects and public services for our people will be its hallmark,” he added.
Medialdea said the President, however, vetoed PHP95.3 billion worth of appropriation since they are “not part of the President’s priority projects”.
“The President, among others, vetoed 95.3 billion pesos items of appropriations in the Details of DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) Programs/Projects, which are not within the programmed priorities,” Medialdea said.
Panelo echoed this, saying that they were vetoed for “falling outside the government’s programmed priorities.”
“True to his commitment and constitutional duty to be fealty to the constitutional directives, the President vetoed items of appropriation that are either considered by law and jurisprudence as rider provisions not being related to a particular appropriation or they seek to amend the Constitution and certain statutes,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that the President likewise “subjected certain provisions to conditional implementation in order to ensure conformity with existing laws, rules and regulations.”
Among the provisions he subjected to conditional implementation are the allowance and benefits of teachers and the creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects, revolving fund, and lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, as well as financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements for foreign service, among others.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will support a presidential veto of the entire national budget if the latter should find irregularities in the measure.
The delay in the passage of the 2019 budget stemmed from an impasse between the two houses of Congress after last-minute amendments made to the final version of the bill approved by the bicameral confererence committee.
Panelo earlier said Duterte has the right to veto certain realignments and would not sign anything “unconstitutional”.
On April 10, Panelo announced that the President will sign the 2019 budget. However, it was later rescheduled.
The government has been operating on a reenacted budget since January 1 after lawmakers failed to pass the bill last year due to claims and counterclaims of pork “insertions”. (PNA)