By Jose CielitoReganit
MANILA — Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Monday maintained that the House of Representatives ratified a legal and valid national budget by itemizing the lump sum funds, as she stressed that the House leadership would not allow President Rodrigo Duterte to sign a measure that is unconstitutional.
“What we can say is that the process that we followed was constitutional. We would never put the President in a position of signing an unconstitutional bill,” Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview.
The former president said while the House tasked San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora to negotiate with the Senate, she insisted that the House would not agree to the Senate’s seeming pro-lump sum funds position because the Supreme Court (SC) ruled against it.
“It’s the same process that was done even before I was Speaker ever since the SC ruled that lump sums are unconstitutional. We cannot agree to a lump sum allocation,” Arroyo stressed.
In the meantime, Zamora rejected the interpretation that the House succumbed to Senate pressure in light of its decision to withdraw the budget documents submitted to the Palace through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The seasoned lawmaker was reacting to Senator PanfiloLacson’s claim following their conversation that the House decided to withdraw the budget documents it submitted to the Palace.
Zamora said the objective was to show good faith and convince the senators to talk again and address the budget impasse.
“Well ayokonamangsabihingbumigay (I won’t say that we gave in). Basically, they wanted a sign of good faith in order to continue discussing at basically sinasabinilanagpadala kayo ng ilangdokumento (you sent several documents) containing the enrolled bill. As you see it, kung puwedebawiinwalanamangproblema (there is no problem if it can be withdrawn) because until the Senate President in fact signs that, that’s still not an enrolled bill,” he said.
On the other hand, Zamora said senators should show and present evidence on their claims that the House violated the Constitution when it itemized the lump sum funds.
“They have to show me where it is illegal,” he said.
The San Juan lawmaker pointed out that he has been in several bicameral conference committees before, but not this one, and bicams have to really itemize lump sum allocations because of the SC decision
“You have to itemize and the Appropriations leadership in the House says that is itemization. If the Senate says that is not itemization, they should come up with specifics,” Zamora said.
In the meantime, the veteran lawmaker assured that the House is always open to dialogue with the Senate to break the budget impasse.
“We are open to what the Senate will say. Of course, if Senator Lacson will be my counterpart, then I also expect him to hear what I have to say,” Zamora said. (PNA)