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Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III clapped back at House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano Tuesday (November 26) after the latter blamed the Senate for the problems plaguing the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Cayetano, chair of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), had said the delay in the 2019 national budget’s passage pushed back preparations for the event.

Sotto, however, reminded Cayetano that it was the House which caused the 2019 budget’s passage to be delayed by four months because of lawmakers’ illegal insertions.

The tweaks in the budget bill were tied to the change in House leadership, as former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaced Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker.

“Baka nakakalimutan nila na imbis na isubmit sa amin by October 1 yung budget, sinubmit nila nung November 24. Ano ang magagawa namin less than a month? So in other words, hindi matatapos yun, imposible,” Sotto said.

The Senate President said proof that the House caused the delay in the 2019 budget’s passage was President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of P95-billion worth of items inserted by lawmakers.

“Baka nakakalimutan nila na merong hindi lang P75 billion ang nakita namin, P95 billion ang nakita ng Presidente, na vineto. So paanong hindi sila ang may kasalanan ng delay” he said.

Sotto said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, whom Cayetano also blamed for the problems plaguing the SEA Games, should even be credited for helping break the stalemate over the 2019 budget.

He said it was Drilon who suggested that he sign the enrolled copy of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill but attach an annotation to it expressing the Senate’s reservations about the House’s last minute insertions.

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