Bandera

Congress ratifies P4.1Tr nat’l budget

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THE Senate and the House of Representa­tives ratified on Wednesday the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, even as it is still hounded by allegation­s of pork barrel and insertions.

No senator objected when Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, moved to adopt the bicameral conference committee report on the budget.

This, despite Senator Panfilo Lacson’s earlier allegation that the House of Representa­tives made last minute insertions on the budget before the bicam approval.

At the House, dominated by pro-administra­tion lawmakers, swiftly gave its

nod to next year’s budget proposal few hours after it was adopted by the bicameral conference committee.

The voting on House Bill No. 4228 was made through viva voce or a vote of ayes and nays.

A copy of the committee report and a detailed account of the amendments made by the body have yet to be released by Congress, but Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier revealed last-minute “corruption-driven” insertions made by the lower chamber.

“Pork is here to stay. I hope the President will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money,” Lacson

said in a statement as he snubbed the bicam meeting.

Both Angara and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez have dismissed Lacson’s claims. Angara said the insertions or amendments of the House and Senate could not be considered pork barrel or post-enactment discretion­ary funds, which the Supreme Court had already struck down as illegal in 2013.

Romualdez said the new version of the GAB remains in line with President Duterte’s vision of a “safe and comfortabl­e life for Filipinos,” as well as the administra­tion’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” massive infrastruc­ture drive.

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