By A.L. Balinbin, December 14 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Philippine Star

MALACAÑANG on Friday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will no longer call for a special session for Congress to finish its deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget.

“I would like to confirm the announcement that the President will not be calling for a special session,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a televised press briefing on Friday, Dec. 14.

He said Senate members informed the President through Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno “that it’s physically impossible for them to hold a session because it ended yesterday (Dec. 13).”

“I suppose there’s so many activities that will involve the attention, the presence of all members of Congress. So in deference to that, the President is not calling [for a] special session,” he explained.

For his part, Mr. Diokno said in a statement: “The Senators appear exhausted. They requested a break. Congress will resume on Jan 14.”

“Hopefully, the legislators will be fully reinvigorated by then and will act swiftly for the enactment of the 2019 budget. The sooner Congress act on the new budget, the lower the negative impact of a reenacted one on the economy. Since the capital spending is not re-enacted public capital formation will suffer leading to loss of jobs and deeper poverty,” he also said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President can call on Congress to convene in special session at any time.

Mr. Diokno has warned that a reenacted 2018 budget, as called for if Congress fails to pass budget legislation for 2019, will delay the implementation of new projects in light of the public works ban accompanying the May elections.

The Senate is planning to insert provisions in the General Appropriations Bill or to pass a joint resolution that will remove the election ban on public works for 2019 to address the concerns of the executive branch. — A.L. Balinbin