Bill filed to legalize extension of 2019 infra, social services budget

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    TO avoid possible legal issues, leaders of the House of Representatives have converted into a bill the resolution extending until December 31, 2020 the validity of the 2019 budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO).

    “The SC (has) ruled that a mere resolution cannot amend or repeal a prior law which is an act of Congress. A Republic Act should also be amended or repealed by a Republic Act,” said Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chair of the House committee on appropriations.

    Last November 4, a total of 199 congressmen voted in favor of House Joint Resolution No. 19 but Ungab said some senators have advised House leaders to turn the joint resolution into a bill and cited the Supreme Court ruling on the salary of public nurses.

    Ungab noted the decision ruled that an amendment to the Philippine Nursing Act setting the salary grade of nurses from 11 to 15 through Joint Resolution No. 4 was “invalid.

    This prompted the lawmaker and Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda of Antique to file House Bill No. 5400 to amend section 65 of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (Republic Act No. 11260).

    The House will still have to withdraw the passage of the HJR No. 19 in favor of the measure, House Bill 5437, a substitute version of the bill.

    The bill was approved on second reading yesterday afternoon after it was referred to the floor by the House committee on rules chaired by majority leader Martin Romualdez.

    The authors cited the delay in the enactment of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill early this year and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services as reasons for the measure’s passage.

    “The late passage of the 2019 GAA and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services in view of the May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections resulted in the delay of the implementation of the infrastructure projects and basic social services,” the bill said.