By Delon Porcalla, August 16 2018; Philstar.com


Image Credit to Manila Standard

MANILA, Philippines — A meeting between President Duterte and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday night broke the impasse between economic managers and lawmakers, who eventually agreed to resume their budget deliberations.

“I think I can now suggest to the chairman of the House appropriations committee, Rep. Karlo Nograles, that we can now proceed with the budget hearings. We will resume budget deliberations,” House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. told reporters at a news briefing.

The Camarines Sur congressman as well as Special Assistant to the President Bong Go were at Malacañang when Arroyo discussed the 2019 cash-based budget with the Chief Executive. Her colleagues – 291 of them – preferred the obligation-based scheme.

“There has been a compromise reached with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). We understand their point of view, but we also have to balance it. Dapat kung ano ang demand iyun ang ibigay natin (What’s demanded is what we should give). Anyway, a cooperation has been reached,” Andaya related.

Nograles, who represents Davao City but was not in the Duterte-Arroyo meeting, was optimistic about developments, telling “Headstart” program over ABS-CBN News Channel that a “win-win” solution is still possible.

He said that while he and his colleagues are keeping their communication lines with the DBM “open,” they are sticking to their position on the need to bring back an obligations-based budget and “restore budget cuts” in critical social services.

“Maybe we can do this in 2020, but not 2019. Let the agencies first catch up first with their spending,” Nograles stressed.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and his colleagues Reps. Lito Atienza, Anthony Bravo and Alfredo Garbin Jr. agreed.

“Budget Secretary Ben Diokno may be academically right, but he is politically wrong. His students in UP can understand him, but in the real practical world, it just cannot be,” Atienza said.

“Perhaps they can implement it (cash-based system) gradually. A transition period from two to three years may be OK. Because even the Cabinet members themselves, deep in their hearts, they don’t want this. This is just too soon,” Bravo maintained.

Suarez, himself a former chairman of the House ways and means committee, said he could not understand why the executive department is insisting on a reenacted budget, which he called “counterproductive.”

“We will insist on (Congress’) power of the purse. If there was really underspending, then why are they tossing the problem over to us when they are the executive department and we were not at fault? At the end of the day, it will be Congress who will approve it,” he said.