By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has urged the electorate to choose “responsible” lawmakers in the May polls in the hope of preventing a repeat of the delay in the approval of the national budget.
The President said he would be needing public servants who would help his administration as he has expressed dismay with the recent budget impasse in Congress.
“If you are going to choose, choose leaders who are responsible and will be of great help to me,” he said during the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Bukidnon last Saturday.
“I never asked you for anything else. With God’s mercy I never stole not even one peso. I never touched anything,” he told the crowd gathered at the Kaamulan Park in Malaybalay City.
Duterte explained that the government has been operating on a reenacted budget since January due to the fighting between the two houses of Congress over the proposed 2019 budget.
“I need a Senate that is… Look at how they are doing now. January, February, March, April. When it comes to the budget they fight about it,” he said.
“The Senate and House of Representatives are fighting. We don’t have money. Many agencies don’t have money — reenacted budget,” he added.
The proposed P3.7-trillion national budget is still under review by the Office of the President since it was transmitted by Congress last month.
The approval of the new spending plan was delayed for months due to a squabble between the two houses of Congress on alleged irregular realignments, including post-ratification changes.
“Wala pa, pinag-aaralan pa [None yet. It is still being studied],” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing Monday when asked for updates about the budget.
The President recently threatened to veto the entire 2019 budget proposal if he finds irregularities in the measure.
He said he intends look at the controversial insertions in the budget, noting that the two houses of Congress could not reconcile their differences.
“Pagka talagang tagilid ‘yan, I will outright veto the entire budget,” Duterte said during his visit to Bacolod last week.
Panelo said the President was exercising “utmost care” in reviewing the budget to ensure that it follows the Constitution.
He noted that the President, as a lawyer and strict enforcer of the rule of law, is treading cautiously in performing his constitutional duty by making sure that, before he signs the measure, it will not violate the Constitution, as well as related jurisprudence.
“While we are very eager and devoted to implement policies that will benefit Filipinos, this administration is equally committed to being a stickler for the rule of law,” Panelo added.