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Romualdez: Proposed P4.1-T 2020 budget remains ‘pork free’

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Sunday assured the public that the proposed P4.1-trillion budget remains “pork free” amid concern that the refiled 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) was altered following its withdrawal last August 28.

Romualdez said House Bill No. 4228 is the same proposed legislation ased on the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacañang to Congress last month.

“It was the same and original GAB based on NEP that was sent again to the Appropriations Panel,” he said.

He said HB 4228 was referred again last Wednesday to the House Committee on Appropriations and without insertions.

“We will work overtime to finish the budget deliberations. We are on track to meet the target deadline,” he said.

The Lower House is set to begin its plenary debates for the 2020 budget on Tuesday, September 10.

Romuladez stressed that the House leadership is committed to pass a “constitutionally compliant national budget.”

“The House leadership will comply with the Supreme Court decisions that outlawed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” said Romualdez.

“The pork barrel system is a thing of the past,” he added.

He said theline item budgeting system will be strictly observed to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of public funds.

House Committee on Appropriations chair and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab last week disclosed that almost six dozen legislators are complaining about low infrastrucuture allotment for their respective areas of concern.

According to Ungab, the said lawmakers whose districts/constituents suffered not only budget cuts and Presidential veto under the 2019 General Appropriations Act were the ones supporting the withdrawal of GAB initiated by Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte.

Ungab warned that altering just a single item of GAB before it reaches the period of amendments in the House plenary tantamount to insertions.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano later said that they have already “sorted out all issues as to the procedure and goals for the 2020 budget.”

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