MANILA — The impasse between the Senate and the House of Representatives on the passage of the 2019 budget could end in 2 to 3 days with negotiations ongoing, a House leader said Thursday.
The House leadership earlier dispatched the Secretary-General to the Senate to retrieve the budget books as "a last-ditch effort."
"I was given information that negotiation is ongoing. Nabigyan na kami ng assurance na in 2 to 3 days tapos na itong problema ng stalemate na ito," House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez told ANC's Early Edition.
(We were given an assurance that the problem would end in 2 to 3 days.)
Lawmakers failed to pass the 2019 national budget at the end of last year due to questions over alleged insertions in allocations for the public works department.
Suarez did not say which congressmen were involved in the negotiations and which parts of the budget were being deliberated upon, but hinted that the "problem" stemmed from the House's sudden change of leadership last year.
"Malalim kasi 'yung pinagsimulan ng problema. Siguro kung hindi tayo nagkaroon ng change of leadership wala tayong problemang ganito," he said.
(The problem is deeply-rooted. Maybe we would not have a problem like this if there was no change in leadership.)
Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ousted Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker hours before President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address in July 2018.
Arroyo's allies "purged" and redistributed the P12.5 billion funding allocated to the districts of Alvarez and his allies Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and former Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, House Appropriations Committee chair Rolando Andaya earlier said.
"I'm not blaming the new leadership. They came up with sound and equitable, proportionate application of funds to those who need the fund," said Suarez, one of Arroyo's long-time allies.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier warned that a reenacted budget will delay infrastructure projects and social services such as cash transfer and aid for public transport drivers.