By Ben O. de Vera, Christine O. Avendaño; Inquirer.net
Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer
Malacañang on Thursday said no compromise had been reached to break a deadlock between the executive branch and the House of Representatives on President Duterte’s P3.76-trillion proposed budget for 2019.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea was meeting with the administration’s economic managers on Thursday to discuss the problem with the House.
The House rejected the cash-based system used by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in drawing up the appropriations for 2019.
Preferring the obligation-based system, the House suspended its budget hearings and told the DBM to revert to the old method and increase the budget and deficit.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno refused, saying the cash-based system was nonnegotiable.
He said the executive branch was ready for a reenacted 2018 budget if the House would insist on increasing the 2019 budget and deficit.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. told reporters on Wednesday that he and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with President Duterte in Malacañang on Tuesday night to discuss the problem.
Andaya said the President promised to talk to Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to see if a compromise could be struck to break the impasse.
He said President Duterte agreed that state agencies may be given up to 18 months to use their funds instead of the one-year limit under the cash-based plan.
Mr. Duterte, he said, also agreed to reinstate billions of pesos slashed from the budgets of the health and education sectors.
Roque said he was aware of news reports about Andaya’s statements, but nothing had changed, although Medialdea and the economic managers were in discussion.
The discussion had been planned for Wednesday afternoon and with the President, but it had been reset for Thursday, and with Medialdea instead.
Roque said the economic managers were firm on keeping the cash-based budgeting system.
Before going into the meeting, Diokno denied to reporters that a compromise had been reached with the House.
“There’s no agreement yet. I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Diokno said, referring to Andaya’s statements to reporters.
Diokno said he was unaware of the “hybrid budget” that Andaya reportedly had proposed as a compromise.
A hybrid budget would be a combination of the cash-based system and the obligation-based plan.
They can forget it
Asked if he was willing to meet with House leaders for a discussion of a hybrid budget, Diokno said no.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson told the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum on Thursday morning that a hybrid budget would be a “good enough compromise” for the Senate.
The Senate backs the executive branch on the cash-based budget system.
Lacson said the Senate did not want a reenacted budget, which Diokno had said the executive branch preferred to reverting to the obligation-based programming.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, head of the House appropriations committee, said on Thursday that the search for a way to break the impasse with the executive was going on.
“We’re still working on it. It’s still a process,” Nograles told the Inquirer by phone.
“Give us time. There are matters we still have to deal with,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARLON RAMOS