By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III will no longer entertain “silly” statements from the House of Representatives amid their long-running impasse on the proposed 2019 budget.
Sotto on Friday brushed aside the remarks of House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro who, in urging the Upper Chamber to end the budget delay, raised the supposed failure of senators to act on the pieces of priority legislation under President Duterte’s administration.
“It seems with their maneuverings they want President to fail,” Castro told the press on Thursday.
Sotto, sought for comment, downplayed Castro’s claims.
“[I’ll] no longer pay attention to silly inuendos,” he said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin.
Sotto remained firm about not allowing the enrolment of the P3.757-trillion proposed 2019 budget for Duterte’s signature after the Lower Chamber allegedly realigned some P96 billion of funds to congressional districts to favor of those who supported the change in House leadership last year.
The House of Representatives should withdraw the revised copy of 2019 budget before the Senate agrees to any dialogue with its counterpart, Sotto maintained.
“We never said to return to the old mode. We said return to what we approved and ratified in plenary. Therefore, do not remove and add from budgets that were not theirs in the first place. We stand firm. Recall what they sent then we can talk,” he told reporters in a separate text message, clarifying anew the Senate’s stand.
On Thursday, Sotto proposed that a special session be held so that they could pass a measure granting supplemental budget for the supposed lump sum appropriations that might be vetoed by the President.
“Kung magkakasundo nga, alisin yung sinasabi, pipirmahan ko, ipapadala namin sa Presidente… Yung vineto niya, hindi naman mawawala yun, it will remain there and therefore we can convene into a special session, and address that particular portion of the budget,” he explained in a televised interview.