Noy set to sign P3-T 2016 budget tomorrow
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is scheduled to sign the Congress-approved P3.002-trillion 2016 national budget tomorrow.

Lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon have been invited to the signing ceremonies in Malacañang.

Belmonte said the House of Representatives and the Senate have been passing the national budget on time since 2011.

He said the approval of the spending measure before the end of the fiscal year prevents the reenactment of the current year’s outlay.

It also allows the government to promptly release funds at the start of the new budget year, he said.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, House appropriations committee chairman, said the Congress-approved outlay hews closely to the proposal submitted by Aquino last July.

He said the conference committee he jointly chaired with his Senate counterpart Loren Legarda recommended last-minute changes in the budget, which the two chambers of Congress approved.

“We restored the P8 billion in conditional cash transfer program funds slashed by the Senate. We also allocated an additional P2.7 billion for senior citizens, P4.7 billion for veterans’ pension and P7 billion to augment funds for the planned four-year salary increase of the 1.5 million government personnel starting next year,” he said.

The panel, upon the insistence of the House, also scrapped the Senate-approved P20-billion payment to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco), builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

“There is yet no final Supreme Court decision on the monetary award to Piatco,” Ungab said.

The government has taken over the terminal on corruption, fraud and breach of contract issues.

Last September, the Supreme Court ordered the government to pay Piatco $510 million. The Office of the Solicitor General, representing the state, has appealed the decision, saying the builder is entitled only to $104.5 million.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay reminded the tribunal that it had declared that Piatco was not a qualified bidder and that it had even cancelled its contract.

He said the court should not make taxpayers pay more than what is necessary for Terminal 3.

In May 2011, a Pasay City regional trial court pegged the compensation to Piatco at $116.3 million. The Court of Appeals adjusted this to $371 million, before the Supreme Court increased it significantly to $510 million, including $243 million in interest. 

COURT OF APPEALS DAVAO CITY REP HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE IN MAY ISIDRO UNGAB LAST SEPTEMBER LOREN LEGARDA MILLION NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINAL PIATCO SUPREME COURT
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