Andaya hits Sotto’s ‘strong reservations’ in signing of proposed 2019 budget
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Friday, April 5th, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rolando Andaya, Jr. on Thursday slammed Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s “strong reservations” in the signing of the enrolled copy of the proposed 2019 national budget.
Sotto had expressed “strong reservations” when he signed the bill for the 2019 national budget on March 26, maintaining that the P75-billion worth of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) local infrastructure program funded through the “internal realignments” were “unconstitutional.” He also expressed hope that President Rodrigo Duterte will consider his request to veto the questionable provisions in the bill, specifically the alleged pork barrel insertions.
In a statement accompanying the letter he sent to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and acting Budget Chief Janet Abuel, Andaya asked Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to assail Sotto’s conditional signing of the bill.
Andaya said Sotto’s “unwarranted” move was ill-advised by his lawyer and that there is no such thing as “conditional signing of an enrolled bill.”
“The Senate cannot clothe his signature to the 2019 General Appropriations Bills with ambivalence or dissent,” he said
“The letter he sent to the President expressing his “strong reservations” as annotation in the 2016 National Budget enrolled bill has no legal basis. It is just a personal request, which the President may or may not take heed,” he said.
Andaya also stressed that signing an enrolled copy of the national budget is a legal act so “the imprimatur of the Senate President on the enrolled bill cannot be diminished by his ‘strong reservations,’ which are completely unwarranted.”
Andaya also insisted that the realignments were not made post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report. He also emphasized that the realignments “did not exceed” the approved expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.
“For one, the realignments he cited were adjustments authorized by no less than the Bicameral Conference Committee, which was approved and signed by the conferees from both chamber,” Andaya said.
The lawmaker also noted that “the generic term ‘adjustments’ subsumes realignments and allied modifications.”
Andaya also pointed out that the Omnibus Motion had been included in the previous bicameral reports for institutionalized realignments pursuant to the ratified bicameral report.
“We also maintain that the realignments which the Senate also made, are fully constitutional as part of the budgetary process, and there is no constitutional provision which has been violated, as none was cited by the Senate President,” he said.
But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has a different interpretation on the issue, stressing that inserting realignments after the budget has been ratified is a different matter.
“It can’t be interpreted that suddenly you insert and realign items in the budget, no,” Drilon said.
He also supports Sotto’s move to express reservations on the 2019 budget bill due to questionable provisions.
“The President has no choice but to veto, because the Senate President said that portion of the bill was not validly passed,” he said.
Sotto, meanwhile, said the budget approval is now up to President Duterte.
“At the end of the day, the Senate exercised its power to scrutinize and challenge what is spurious in the budget. It also proves that the Senate is still and will remain independent. The Senate will let the President decide on the submitted budget,” Sotto said in a statement on Wednesday.
by Maris Federez | Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Malacanang has released the details of the line items in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
This, after the Chief Executive signed the Republic Act 11260 or the P3.757 Trillion General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on Tuesday, April 16.
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President did not approve the last-minute insertions made by the House of Representatives in the national budget.
The vetoed provision of the budget are the line items under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects worth P95.374 billion, which Malacanang said violates the constitution.
The Palace pointed out that such projects are not in the priority program of the Duterte Administration.
“Those are the so-called insertions/ riders. They are not part of the program by the DPWH; hence, it violates the constitution. It’s violative of the constitution,” Panelo said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has earlier disclosed that last minute realignments had been made in the budget for the benefit of several lawmakers who are allies of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Sec. Panelo reiterated what he calls as a very clear message by the President in signing the national budget.
“The message is you always follow the constitution. Any deviation from the constitution will not be approved by the President or will not be tolerated,” said Panelo.
Aside from the vetoed items, other provisions in the national budget shall be subjected to “conditional implementation in order to ensure conformity with existing laws, rules and regulations.”
Among them are the allowance and benefits of teachers and creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects, revolving fund, and lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, as well as financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements of the country’s foreign service. – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019, Malacañang said on Monday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed this in a text message sent to reporters.
Medialdea said Duterte signed the budget on April 15 but vetoed parts of the bill.
“The President, among others, vetoed P95.3 billion items of appropriations in the details of DPWH programs/projects, which are not within the programmed priorities,” Medialdea said.
Duterte signed the long-delayed budget without holding a ceremonial signing. Malacañang earlier said the scheduled signing of the 2019 spending program may be pushed back until after the Lenten season, pending the President’s review.
The government has been running on a reenacted budget since January after the Congress failed to pass the proposed 2019 spending program on time.
The 2019 General Appropriations Act was transmitted to the Office of the President after it was ratified by the House of Representatives and Senate in February.
However, its enactment was delayed due to alleged “unconstitutional” realignments that prompted Senate President Vicente Sotto III to sign the budget with “strong reservations” in late March.
Sotto and other senators had previously questioned the P75-billion worth of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that were allegedly inserted by the lower house after the bill was ratified.
But House members have maintained that the realignments were not illegal and, in turn, accused the Senate of snipping the budget for infrastructure projects.– Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)
by Maris Federez | Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he might veto the P3.757 Trillion national budget for this year.
The Chief Executive made the statement at the PDP-LABAN campaign rally in Bacolod City, Thursday night (April 10), as he explained the importance of having allies in Congress for the administration to easily implement its programs and projects.
Duterte added that his legal team in Malacañang is ready to receive the proposed budget and once he finds out that it could just bring problems to the country, he will be left with no choice but to veto it.
The 2019 General Appropriations Act had been pending in Congress due to controversies surrounding it, such as the alleged insertions in the budget that will benefit several lawmakers.
This has prompted the government to operate on a reenacted budget since January this year.
“Kay hindi magkasundo ang Congress pati Senado eh. And ‘yung mga insertions diyan titingnan ko. Pagka tagilid talaga, I will — I will not to hesitate… I will not hesitate to veto the entire budget [since the House and the Senate are opposing each other. And I have to look into the insertions made. If it turns out to be problematic, I will not hesitate to veto the entire budget].”
The President’s economic managers had earlier said operating on a reenacted budget puts the country’s economy and the government’s infrastructure programs and projects in jeopardy.
The Palace, however, gave the assurance that contingency plans are in place in case the country will run on reenacted budget in the entire year.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said, “as to the possible repercussion on the economy of a re-enacted budget, our economic managers have contingency plans prepared, responsive to any conceivable event, and they will correspondingly adjust their targets, which include the execution of programs and projects relating to infrastructure as well as the delivery of basic services to the people.”
The President has until April 25 to either approve or veto the proposed bill before it lapses into law on April 26, even without his signature. – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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