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Malacañang hems and haws on budget schedule

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By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

MALACAÑANG has pulled out an advisory on Wednesday, April 10, that there will be a “ceremonial signing” of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on Monday, April 15.

A Cabinet official had earlier said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to sign the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget before Holy Week.

But a Wednesday advisory also to that effect was pulled out late evening by the Palace.

“As of now removed from April 15 sched[ule],” Communications Undersecretary Feducia Mia M. Reyes-Lucas said in a Viber message.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles announced last Monday that the proposed national budget could be signed as early as this week or next week.

As of another update on Wednesday night, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said, “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.”

“The President could sign the Budget bill before Holy Week…If he allows it to lapse into law as is, then the version submitted by both Houses of Congress will be enacted,” he told reporters.

He also signaled the possibility of a veto, noting that veto messages happen every year.

“Every year there is a veto message, and that’s part of the prerogative of the President….The process of signing includes vetting and finalizing the veto message, so ideally, by practice, and historically, there is always a veto message,” he said.

Asked for an update at a Palace briefing on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “Wala pa. Still, kung ano iyong sinabi ni CabSec, iyon na iyon. Kasi the budget is a huge document in terms of provision. Siyempre iisa-isahin naman, matagal na trabaho iyon.” (Not ready yet. Still, what the CabSec said, that’s it. Because the budget is a huge document in terms of provision. Certainly this will be parsed, the work will take time).

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