Credit to Author: besguerra| Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 23:15:12 +0000
There are no irreconcilable differences between the House and Senate versions of the P3.8-trillion proposed budget for 2019, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said on Tuesday, easing fears of a clash between the two chambers over the spending bill.
“As to their (Senate’s) amendments, we are confident in finding a common ground that will benefit the people and fund the progress that they deserve,” the new chair of the House appropriations panel said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s Senate-House conference on the budget.
“No healthy difference on policy questions is irreconcilable,” said Andaya, who quit as majority leader of the House on Monday after clashing with Malacañang over alleged pork insertions in the spending bill.
‘President does not interfere’
Malacañang reiterated on Tuesday that it had no hand in Andaya’s downfall.
“The President does not interfere,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters.
The Palace issued a statement on Monday urging Andaya to stop waging a “media propaganda war” against Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, whom he had accused of “inserting” P75 billion into the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to favor in-laws in Sorsogon province.
Diokno denied Andaya’s allegations.
Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro on Monday replaced Andaya as House majority leader.
The Senate, which passed the budget on Monday, planned to introduce major amendments to the measure, including cuts in the budget of the DPWH, slashes in road right of way allocations and removal of projects that had not been part of the original proposal.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson questioned the addition of P75 billion to the DPWH budget and planned to distribute it to other agencies, including the Department of Health.
He said the P75 billion had been distributed in the House version of the budget bill among favored congressmen, each of whom got P60 million.
Andaya led the House contingent in the conference with the Senate on Tuesday afternoon at Manila Polo Club located in the exclusive Forbes Park subdivision in Makati City.
The other members of the House contingent include Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Representatives Ma. Carmen Zamora, Rodante Marcoleta, Edcel Lagman, Federico Sandoval II, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Yedda Marie Romualdez, Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon, Arthur Yap and Jesus Romualdo.
“I have made my position clear,” Andaya said.
“The House contingent will push for full transparency in the bicameral conference deliberations. We know that our senators want the same,” he added. —Reports from DJ Yap and Christine O. Avendaño