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Duterte on budget impasse: ‘I will not sign anything illegal’

Manila, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will not sign “anything that would be illegal” as the legislative branch has yet to transmit the 2019 national budget to Malacañang.

Duterte made the remark as the Senate and the House of Representatives traded allegations over the last-minute changes reportedly made in the 2019 budget.

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READ: Senate realigned P75 billion in 2019 budget – Andaya

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The legislative branch is supposed to transmit the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the President, but “itemizations” of lump sum portions of the budget caused further delays in the budget process.

“I will not sign anything that would be an illegal document. Magkaroon tayo ng slide sa GDP (Gross Domestic Product) niyan  (Our GDP will slide) if we are going to reenact the budget. And everybody will suffer including the law enforcement,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.

“It will decrease our GDP, alam ninyo yan (You know that). Walang pera panggastos (There’s no money to spend) to move on, it’s an everyday income that we expect,” he added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III claimed that the House made P79 million worth of realignments in the budget while House appropriations committee chair Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. claimed that the Senate realigned P75 million.

READ: Sotto bares P79 billion realigned in 2019 national budget

The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget after Congress failed to pass the P3.7-trillion 2019 budget on time.

Malacañang on Monday expressed optimism that the government will not be operating on a reenacted budget until August amid the ongoing budget impasse.

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the arguing lawmakers will eventually settle the argument as “all of them are concerned about the welfare of the country.” /ee

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