House approves bill extending validity of 2019 budget

Mara Cepeda
Lawmakers earlier approved a joint resolution on the budget extension, but they turned it into a bill to avoid issues on legality

BUDGET EXTENSION. The House of Representatives moves to extend the validity of the 2019 budget for another year. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives gave the green light to the bill that would extend the shelf life of the current P3.757-trillion budget for 2019 until December 31, 2020.

Voting 192-0-0, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 5437 on 3rd and final reading on Monday, November 18. 

The measure would extend the life of funds allocated for maintenance and other operating expenses and for capital outlay under the 2019 budget. 

HB No. 5437 retained the content of House Joint Resolution No. 19, which the House already passed on 3rd reading on November 4. But more than a week later, the House leadership moved to change the form of legislation to sidestep issues on legality. 

A recent Supreme Court ruling on the salary of nurses said a mere resolution cannot change a law like the General Appropriations Act (GAA) containing the budget for 2019. 

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez previously said they wanted to extend the 2019 budget’s validity following the months-long delay in its approval as well as the election ban that had barred the government from spending funds for new projects during the May elections.

The passage of the 2019 budget was hounded by accusations of illegal budget insertions, including the alleged return of pork barrel and the so-called “parking” funds scheme.

The budget deadlock delayed the passage of the 2019 GAA and forced the government to reenact the 2018 budget in the 1st quarter of 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the 2019 budget only in April, but not after vetoing the controversial multibillion-peso funds under the Department of Public Works and Highways. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.