In this file photo, House Appropriations committee chairman Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. and his Senate counterpart Loren Legarda hold a press conference.
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Duterte to sign 2019 national budget bill on Monday
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - April 10, 2019 - 8:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — After months of bickering and mudslinging between lawmakers and the Budget department, President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign on Monday the much-delayed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year. 

The ceremonial signing of this year's General Appropriations Act will be in Malacañang, according to a Palace advisory released to the media on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed on Wednesday evening that this year's budget would be signed on Monday.

"The Palace confirms that the ceremonial signing of the General Appropriations Act 2019 has already been calendared on the president's schedule on April 15, Monday," Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said the 2019 budget is a continuation of the administration's "narrative of genuine change and meaningful progress" through intensified infrastructure programs, expanded policies on human development and poverty reduction, and strategies in advancing the country's peace and order situation.

"We thank the men and women of the Senate and the House of Representatives for supporting this administration’s endeavors in pursuing a path towards the president's vision of a prosperous and high-income economy under a secure and peaceful nation where all Filipinos can experience a dignified and comfortable life," Panelo said. 

Controversies involving alleged last-minute amendments and insertions hampered the passage of the 2019 budget last year, forcing the government to operate under a reenacted spending program in the first quarter. 

As of Wednesday, it was not clear whether the president vetoed the alleged last-minute amendments that senators claimed were inserted by some House members after the spending bill was ratified. 

One of the issues that dogged the budget is the quarrel over the proposal to abolish the Road Board. The proposal allegedly sparked a rift between then Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and some lawmakers who accused him of inserting some P75 billion in the budget without Duterte's permission.

The former budget chief was also accused of favoring some contractors. Diokno, now the chief of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, has denied committing any illegal act. 

Last month, Duterte signed a law scrapping the Road Board, calling it a "milking cow" of corrupt officials. 

House and Senate leaders also accused each other of tinkering with the proposed budget after it was approved by the bicameral panel. 

Economic managers have estimated that a reenacted budget until April would bring down full year economic growth to 6.1 to 6.3 percent. 

Last Monday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said greater coordination between the executive and legislative branches is needed to prevent a repeat of a reenacted budget.

2019 GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT BUDGET BILL
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