By Vanne Terrazola
President Duterte will most likely use his line-item veto power on the 2019 budget, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto on Monday expressed confidence that Duterte will reject the illegal realignments in the General Appropritaions Bill (GAB) as he had pointed out and asked for.
The Senate chief said that this was based on a conversation he had with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who supposedly informed him last Friday that the President has been reviewing his annotation on the enrolled copy of the budget bill.
“Sabi niya ‘Binabasa niyang mabuti ang pinadala mo’, so malaki ang tsansa na magla-line veto ang Presidente. I’m basing it on pakiramdam ko at usap-usapan namin na maglaline veto siya, malamang na malamang,” Sotto said in an interview over radio DZBB.
(Medialdea said ‘President Duterte is carefully reviewing what you sent,’ so there is huge chance that the President will exercise his line-item veto power. I’m basing it on my feeling and our conversations. He will use his line-item veto power most likely.)
To recall, Sotto sent Duterte a list of the supposed realignments by the House or Representatives after the ratification of the GAB in the two chambers of Congress.
Amid the Senate-House word war, President Duterte, just recently, warned to veto the entire proposed 2019 national budget if he finds its provisions problematic and unconstitutional.
Sotto, quoting Medialdea, said Duterte has started reviewing the recommendations of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the enrolled GAB.
Despite this, Sotto said he was nonetheless confident that the Chief Executive will sign the government spending program after Holy Week, and before April 26.
Sotto guessed that Duterte will forego ceremonial signing of the GAB to prevent members of the Senate and House of Representatives from crossing paths should he announce the items he rejected.
Despite his “strong reservations” on the enrolled GAB, he said it was still up to the President whether to approve or reject the measure, or veto any of its provisions.
“Sa pagkakakilala ko sa Pangulo natin, tiyak na magve-veto ‘yon,’ Sotto said.