Arroyo denies manipulating ratified 2019 budget — Palace

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Arroyo denies manipulating ratified 2019 budget â Palace
House Speaker Arroyo is facing accusations of realigning P25 million from the Department of Health's budget for "favored" lawmakers.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, File

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo denied manipulating the 2019 budget after it was ratified by the two legislative chambers, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson has accused Arroyo of realigning P25 million from the Health department's budget for her "favored" congressmen after the bicameral conference committee approved the national expenditure bill.

COMMENTARY: The costs of budget delay in the Philippines

Citing unnamed members of the House of Representatives, Lacson said Arroyo prepared and imposed a list of Health department appropriations for a health facilities program including a P2.5-million allocation for the purchase of an ambulance. 

He claimed only P8 million was given to those who did not support her election as House Speaker last year. The senator said Arroyo's act was a "brazen" and "illegal act" and a clear violation of the 1987 Constitution. 

But Panelo said Arroyo had told him that the budget approved by the bicameral conference committee has not been changed. 

"According to Speaker Arroyo, as far as she knows, whatever is approved in the bicam is now the one being printed for submission to the executive," Panelo told reporters in Malacañang Tuesday. 

"She said she does not know anything. As far as she knows, the version approved by the bicam was not changed. From what she says, the bicam version is the one being printed," he added. 

Copies of the proposed 2019 budget are printed before they are transmitted to the Office of the President. 

READ: DOH: Delayed pay, deployment of public nurses due to pending release of 2019 budget

Panelo made the remarks after calling Arroyo to ask her about the allegations of Lacson. The presidential spokesman called the House speaker after he was asked to react about the issue during a press briefing.  

Panelo assured the public that the president would scrutinize all items of the budget once it is submitted to his office for his signature. He said the Palace is leaving it to lawmakers to address the issues raised by Lacson.

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