Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2019   •   2428

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday urged Malacañang to bare the details of the provisions in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. made the call after Duterte signed the 2019 General Appropriations Act but vetoed more than P95 billion items of appropriations in the details of the projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

READ: Duterte signs P3.7-T national budget for 2019

Andaya said the Palace should reveal the details of the vetoed provisions “in the interest of transparency and for the guidance of the public.”

“I urge Malacañang to release the President’s veto message in full immediately so that we can base our reaction on the official document,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker also hinted that the Senate’s alleged pork barrel remains intact in the newly-signed 2019 budget, saying this could be the reason why Senators are in celebratory mood over the deletion of the House amendments amounting to P95.3 billion.

“My friends in the Senate are going to town claiming victory over the deletion of the House amendments. Does this mean that the Senate port remains intact? Could this be the reason for their celebratory mood?” Andaya said.

The solon also argued that the President’s veto on several items in the budget could be “conditional” in nature.

“I believe that the veto being speculated about is of the conditional kind.  As such, the appropriation remains but its release is subject to conditions,” he said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a text message on Monday that Duterte vetoed some parts in the budget that were not part of the administration’s “programmed priorities.”

Andaya has been insisting that the realignments they made were not post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report and did not exceed the expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.

He also said that Senate President Vicente Sotto’s signing of the budget bill with strong reservations was ill-advised and baseless.

READ: Andaya hits Sotto’s “strong reservations” in signing 2019 budget bill 

Meanwhile, Senators have expressed relief with the signing of the budget and commended Duterte for vetoing the questionable insertions in the 2019 spending program.   

“I am relieved that the 2019 budget has finally been signed, primarily because further delay would have caused adverse effects on our macroeconomy,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement.

“The veto is proof that the Senate was right all along in saying that the changes made were unconstitutional,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also lauded Duterte’s move, calling the signing of the “pork-free” national budget a “victory for Filipino taxpayers.”

“If there is one act of PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) that is worthy of admiration, this veto message is on top of my list,” Lacson added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also believes that Duterte’s decision to reject the P95-billion items of appropriations is constitutional.

“The President’s line item veto is based on legal and constitutional grounds, and not because the President sided with the Senate,” Drilon said.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, urged her colleagues and the public to be alert to ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be spent accordingly.

“Magbantay tayo para matiyak na ang huling piso ay sa kapakanan ng taumbayan mapupunta,” she said.

(We should be on guard to ensure that the last peso will be spent on the public’s welfare.) – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Palace says Sanchez not eligible for release under good conduct law

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez | Courtesy: PTV

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is not eligible for early release from prison under the new law increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Sanchez, who was convicted of a heinous crime, is not entitled to benefit from the Republic Act 10592 which shortens a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior.

“Mr. Sanchez, under republic act number 10592 is not eligible so the President as the chief enforcer of the law have to follow the law,” Panelo said.

In an earlier statement, Malacañang supported Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in stressing that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from the benefit of its coverage.

Sanchez has been in jail for over 25 years since he was convicted for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

The former mayor was reported earlier to be among the 11,000 persons deprived of who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased the GCTA given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

The news has sparked outrage among the public.

Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule was also questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

The report on Sanchez’s possible release also “enraged” President Rodrigo Duterte, according to his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga sinite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go said in a radio interview when asked about the president’s reaction.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said Sanchez may be disqualified from availing the provisions of the good conduct time allowance law for his alleged violations of prison rules.

The BuCor also assured to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who were convicted of high-profile, heinous crimes or grave crimes that show extreme moral depravity. (RRD with details from correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to decide on banning online gambling in PH amid China’s call – Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday (August 21) said it is up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the operations of online gambling in the country.

“We have to ask the President on this policy or issue,” Panelo told reporters.

“Hindi natin alam kung may possibility or wala. We have to ask the President,” he added.

On Tuesday (August 20), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has called on the Philippine government to ban all forms of online gambling.

“We have also taken note of the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it,” he said in a press conference in Beijing.

“We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” he added.

Defense officials expressed concern over proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) near military camps arguing the possibility of Chinese workers becoming spies for Beijing.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), meanwhile, has already stopped accepting applications for POGO licenses in the country unless underlying issues are settled.

But Panelo noted that online gambling remains legal under Philippine law.

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