The House of Representatives has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2020.

This development came after the bicameral conference committee approved the proposed 2020 budget on the same day.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the budget that was passed has “no pork, no parked funds, and no delays with full transparency.”

“2020 is a very symbolic year as it represents a perfect vision.”

“2020 is a very symbolic year as it represents a perfect vision—a vision we share with President Duterte to provide a safe and comfortable life for all Filipinos. Now more than ever is the best time to push for reforms to see this goal though,” Cayetano said.

“While there is no perfect budget, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have identified areas where funds have been underutilized for various reasons. Thus, both houses made adjustments so it can now be fully utilized for programs such as the Build, Build, Build and social welfare programs in furthering the goal improving the quality of life of Filipinos,” the veteran legislator added.

In an ambush interview, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez denied allegations of “pork barrel” inserted in the proposed national budget even after the bicameral meeting.

“Wala kaming natuklasan ngayon at saka nakita mo naman wala naman commentaries dito sa bicam (We have not discovered [any alleged insertions] and there are no commentaries about it here in the bicam) so we hope even that will be clarified,” Romualdez said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed that there are still “lump sums” and “vaguely described projects” that are now part of the bicam report.

Lacson also noted that upon preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House, it was discovered that the “Source File” is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219 billion that was allegedly used as the congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth P16.345 billion that were inserted in the bicam report.

“We share the same zeal and we are always with Senator Ping and those who want to rid the budget of any of those pork issues.” 

“But of course, we always respect the views of each and every congressman and senator, and we share the same zeal at parati kami magkasama ni (and we are always with) Senator Ping and those who want to rid the budget of any of those pork issues,” Romualdez said.

Congress is eyeing to have the proposed 2020 GAA signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 20 before lawmakers go on break for the holidays.

Among the critical programs of the Duterte administration are measures to implement new laws and policies that provide socio-economic assistance to all Filipinos and enhance security of the nation, such as the following: (1) full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; (2) institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; (3) smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; (4) implementation of the liberalization of rice importation; (5) creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development; and (6) National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. 

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