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Duterte to sign 2019 budget bill 'immediately' if he thinks it's legal

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Tuesday, March 26, that President Rodrigo Duterte may sign the 2019 budget bill in a matter of days – if he thinks it's constitutional.

"If he feels that it is not in violation of the Constitution, he will sign it immediately," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview with reporters in the Palace  on Tuesday.

Asked if Duterte will veto the House of Representative’s post-bicameral conference realignments, as recommended by senators, Panelo said the President will consider this.

"It's still the President's call. Whatever the opinion of the House, it will not matter with respect to the President, whether it's unconstitutional or not," he said.

Will the Senate's "strong reservations" about the House realignments be a factor in Duterte's decision-making process? Panelo said the President would "evaluate" the Senate's stance that the realignments are unconstitutional. 

"Everything will be considered by the President.... He always does the right thing," said Panelo.

The Chief Executive had earlier called on the two chambers of Congress to reach a compromise, warning of the negative impact of a reenacted budget to the economy. The government has been operating on a reenacted version of the 2018 national budget since January after Congress failed to pass the 2019 budget bill in December last year.

At one point in the impasse, Duterte intervened, calling a meeting in Malacañang with lawmakers. But the deadlock remained.

Duterte had also earlier declared he would not sign a budget bill that is illegal. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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