By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, March 8 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

A vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Thursday urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to expeditiously transmit the Congress-approved 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to Malacañang.

In a news statement, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. said the delay in the transmittal of the P3.757-trillion proposed national budget has only deepened suspicions that “underhanded acts fueled by greed” are taking place.

Villafuerte said that the longer the delay in the transmittal of the budget bill, the longer the period that the government would have to continue operating on a reenacted 2018 budget, which, in turn, means further holding up the implementation of government’s  “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects and other priority initiatives meant to spur growth, attack poverty and improve the quality and delivery of basic services to the people.

Also, he said the delay was a “blatant violation” of the legislative process, given that there is no justification whatsoever for legislators to dilly-dally on the transmittal of the bill to the Office of President after both chambers have ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the 2019 GAB nearly a month ago.

He alleged that former House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya Jr., who now chairs the House appropriations committee, is “behind the delay” in the submission of the 2019 GAB to Malacañang.

But Andaya already assured the public that there is nothing unconstitutional in the proposed 2019 GAA as the lower chamber is preparing the national budget for the President signature this month.

“What is there to change or finalize in the GAB for weeks on end when it was supposed to have been the final version already that was approved on  February 8, or almost a month ago?” Villafuerte said.

“We cannot help but agree with Sen. Panfilo Lacson that some last-minute changes are now being done to ensure that pork allocations of some favored House leaders remain intact, if not padded,” Villafuerte added.

Both Congress had ratified the budget bill on February 9 before it went to two-month break to give way for the midterm elections.

“The only thing they have to do to make the budget process transparent enough is to submit it pronto to Malacañang,” he added.

“What can be more transparent than for Andaya, as the head of the House contingent to the bicam panel, to transmit the 2019 GAB right away to the Palace so the President could study, sign and release the document to the public?” Villafuerte said.