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Friday, May 31, 2024

Gatchalian predicts smooth passage of 2024 budget in bicam

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he expects a smooth sailing for the P5.7-trillion proposed budget for 2024 at the bicameral conference committee.

Gatchalian ruled out intense debates on the General Appropriations Act following Vice President Sara Duterte’s statement that she would no longer insist on getting confidential and intelligence funds for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education.

“Yes, they will no longer engage in heated debates. I see that one of the most contentious issues — the confidential and intelligence funds of the Vice President — the friction has been lessened,” Gatchalian said in an interview over dwIZ.

Duterte personally talked to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Finance committee chairperson Sonny Angara to say she was no longer pursuing her CIF as it was divisive.

The House of Representatives earlier removed P650 million in confidential funds meant for the OVP and DepEd which Duterte heads.

However, Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, said the projects and programs that were supposed to be funded by Duterte’s CIF should not be neglected.

“The Vice President herself sought to remove the CIF and discussed what programs should be strengthened to boost our fight in schools,” he said.

Zubiri and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III expressed conflicting views on Duterte’s CIF.

Zubiri said it could no longer be restored in the bicameral committee since Duterte already agreed to let go of her confidential funds.

Pimentel, on the other hand, said anything could happen in the bicameral meeting, including the possibility of returning the slashed CIFs.

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