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Arroyo ​can’t promise 2019 budget approval this week

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House leadership could not commit whether or not the proposed P3.757-trillion National Budget for 2019 will be approved on final reading this week.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said it was “very hard” for her to make assurances in behalf of her colleagues.

“The policy making is always collegial…. I respect their freedom,” said Arroyo.

On Sunday, House appropriations committee vice-chair and Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora hinted that the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2019 might not be approved before the upcoming session break of Congress this coming October 13.

Zamora admitted that the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) will face a tougher test when it reaches the Senate as several senators vowed to scrutinize more than P55 billion worth of alleged insertions realigned by the powerful House Committee of the Whole before it was approved on second reading last week.

“Based on the volume of work that needs to be done and the fact that we’re still resolving all the matters taken up during the debates, we’ll try our best, but we may not have enough material time to get it approved on third [and final] reading before the recess,” said Zamora.

Follwing the 2019 GAA’s approval on second reading last October 3, House Majority Leader Rolando Jr. (Camarines Sur) moved for the creation a small committee which will finalize the proposed individual amendments before the measure’s expected approval on final reading next week.

Members of the small panel includes Andaya, Zamora and Reps. Federico Sandoval (Malaon), and Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon (Davao Oriental) for the majority bloc; while Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (Quezon), and Reps. Anthony Bravo (COOP-NATCO Partylist) and Edcel Lagman (Albay) for the minority.