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House to retrieve budget books from Senate in bid to break budget impasse

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Wednesday said it will retrieve the budget books it sent to the Senate but clarified it was not withdrawing the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) it approved.

In a statement, House Appropriations Chair Rolando Andaya Jr. maintained that lawmakers did “nothing unconstitutional, illegal or irregular when we approved and ratified the 2019 GAB in plenary session.”

“The House leadership has dispatched the Secretary-General to the Senate to physically retrieve the budget books that we sent to the senators. This is in-line with the Speaker’s instruction to allow a last-ditch effort to break the budget impasse,” he said.

“We are giving ourselves five days to complete this task. We want to make it clear, though. We are not withdrawing or backtracking from our earlier position.”

Andaya added that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed them to form a 3-man team that will meet with their Senate counterparts to address contentious issues on the 2019 budget.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III had refused to sign the budget after Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed Arroyo realigned P25 billion to favor certain lawmakers, which she denied. 

The government is operating on a reenacted budget and the Palace and finance officials have warned that remaining in this setup could affect the country’s economic growth for 2019. –With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News