Duterte set to sign 2020 budget

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    PRESIDENT Duterte is set to sign today the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 after meticulously scrutinizing the appropriations measure ratified by Congress in December.

    The website of the Office of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) said the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be the 547th law to be enacted during the Duterte administration.

    Chief Presidential legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the President did a “thorough” study of the appropriation bill, which was crafted consistent to the theme, “Continuing the Journey to a More Peaceful and Progressive Philippines.”

    The P4.1-trillion budget is 12 percent higher than last year’s P3.7-trillion expenditure program, and is equivalent to 19.4 percent of the gross domestic product.

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson had appealed to President Duterte to closely examine the money measure following his exposure of supposed last-minute insertions made by members of the House of Representatives shortly before the 2020 GAB was separately ratified by the House and the Senate.

    Lacson had promised to give the budget department and Duterte a list of the alleged insertions, which he said included eight flood projects all suspiciously worth P60 million each.

    The 2020 GAB is the first law to be signed in the current year.

    The President on December 20, 2019 last signed Republic Act 22464 that extended the availability of portions of the 2019 budget up to December 31, 2020.

    The PLLO said the first law signed by Duterte when he became president was RA 10923 or the Act postponing the October 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 15, 2016.

    Of the 546 laws signed in the last three years, 296 were enacted in 2019, including the 17 that lapsed into law approving the creation of barangays and extending legislative franchises.

    Of the list of laws, 112 were national in scope coverage such as the Rice Tarrification law, guidelines on the imposition of rate ceilings for political advertisements, and extension or grant of media franchises; while 431 others pertained to laws with localized coverage, including those that created or renamed public elementary, high schools and community colleges, and those that created or separated barangays and roads, among others.

    Eleven of the laws were included in the priority measure of the administration, or the common legislative agenda of the executive and legislative branch, among them the laws that raised the excise tax on tobacco products, revised the Corporation Code of the Philippines, the rice tariffication law and the institutionalization of the universal health care insurance.