By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is expected to review the proposed 2019 national budget and sign the document if it is consistent with the Constitution, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokeman Salvador Panelo said they commend the two houses of Congress for resolving their differences about the 2019 budget proposal and submitting the enrolled bill to the President.
“They performed their respective jobs and they have finally settled their differences. That’s why we are happy to note that they have finally submitted or will submit the enrolled bill,” Panelo said in an interview with reporters at the Palace.
“That’s his judgment call. He will have to review the enrolled bill and if it is consistent with the Constitution, he will sign it,” he added when asked if the President will sign the measure.
Panelo said the President’s review of the 2019 budget proposal would likely be done “in a few days.” “Knowing the President, he will act on it immediately because we need a new budget,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has signed the proposed 2019 national budget and transmitted the document to Malacañang for President Duterte’s action.
Sotto however said he signed the bill with reservations amid concerns about the realignment supposedly made by the House after Congress ratified the spending plan. He has reportedly asked the President to veto such House-led budget changes.
Panelo assured the public that the President would not sign any document that is illegal.
“The Senate says it’s illegal, unconstitutional. The President says he will not sign anything unconstitutional as far as he is concerned. He will need to evaluate whether or not the opinion of the Senate is indeed correct,” he said.
Asked if the President will veto the House realignments, Panelo said: “It’s the President’s call.”
“He always does the right thing,” he added.
The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget after Congress failed to pass a new spending bill late last year. The passage of the budget proposal for 2019 has been delayed as lawmakers trade allegations of last-minute realignments in the proposed outlay.