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Lawmakers to respect Duterte veto on 2019 budget

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers will respect President Rodrigo Duterte’s exercise of his veto power on the proposed P3.7-trillion 2019 national budget.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said vetoing the entire budget and other proposed bills that are illegal and do not agree with his programs is a president’s prerogative under the Philippine constitution.

“To veto the entire budget is a prerogative and power of the President under the constitution if he is of the opinion that the budget bill is unconstitutional, or does not support his program of government,” Drilon said.

“That is how our system is outlined in the Constitution–the President has the final say,” he said.

Senate Finance Committee chairperson Loren Legarda also echoed Drilon’s statement.

“That’s the president’s prerogative and we will respect whatever his decision will be,” Legarda said.

House leaders also assured to respect the President’s veto power, stressing that this will be for the common good of the country.

“We respect the veto power of the President, and we are convinced that he will exercise such authority for the benefit of the nation and of our people,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya, Jr.

On Thursday, Duterte threatened to veto the entire budget if it turns out problematic.

“The budget has just been submitted. I have to sign it once I return. I am still studying the budget,” he said during a campaign sortie in Bacolod City.

“So ang legal ko magbasa uli. Ngayon pagka talagang tagilid ‘yan, (My legal team is reviewing it. Now, if it’s really problematic)

I will outright veto the entire budget,” he added.

The passage of the proposed spending program was long delayed due to an impasse between lawmakers over the alleged realignments made by the House of Representatives after the bill was ratified by both chambers of Congress.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed strong reservations when he signed the enrolled copy of the bill in late March, maintaining that the P75-billion worth of projects under the local infrastructure program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) funded through the “internal realignments” were “unconstitutional.”

Andaya, in turn, slammed Sotto’s “unwarranted” move and accused the Senate of snipping down funds for infrastructure projects.

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

According to Senator Koko Pimentel, Duterte’s threat to veto the entire budget may be the President’s way of saying to Congress to “get your act together.”

“The country will survive a year without a budget (by operating under the previous year’s budget),” he added.

The government has been operating on a reenacted budget since January after the Congress failed to pass the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act on time.

But Duterte’s economic advisers have warned that a reenacted budget until April could slow down full-year economic growth to as much as 6.3 percent; 4.9 percent to 5.1 percent if the budget is enacted in August and 4.2 percent to 4.9 percent if no new budget is signed this year.

Malacañang earlier said the 2019 budget bill may be signed after the Lenten break as the President is still perusing the document.

READ: Palace: Duterte may sign 2019 national budget after Lenten break

The Palace statement came after it withdrew an earlier advisory on the tentative schedule of the budget’s signing on April 15.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the supposed event was removed from the President’s schedule for next week, stressing that all his schedules are subject to change without prior notice. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Duterte keeps lower tariff on mechanically deboned poultry meat

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an order to keep lower tariff rates on certain poultry products.

Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO) number 82 on June 13. A copy of which was released to the media on Monday (June 17).

Under the EO no. 82, tariffs on imported agricultural products, including mechanically deboned chicken and turkey, will remain at five percent while frozen poultry will stay at 20 percent.

Duterte issued the order upon the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to maintain the tariff rates under the EO 23 released in 2017 for mechanically deboned chicken and turkey meat, and its offals.

“The present economic condition warrants the continued application of the reduced rate of duties on certain agricultural products to mitigate the impact of high prices of goods,” the order read.

The latest executive issuance extended the lower tariff rates to December 31, 2020, from the original expiry set on June 30, 2020, under the EO 23.

The Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act authorizes the President to increase, reduce or remove existing rates of import duty upon the recommendation of NEDA board when Congress is not in session.

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Tugade allays flooding concerns amid construction of Sangley Airport

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

File photo: DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday allayed fears of flooding amid the ongoing construction of the Sangley Airport in Cavite.

During an inspection led by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade at the construction site, he said there was no trace of flooding in the area despite rains that occurred overnight.

“Umulan ng malakas kagabi hanggang kaninang madaling araw, pero kita niyo naman, walang baha dito sa airport,” Tugade said in a statement posted on Facebook.

IN PHOTOS: DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade led the inspection on the construction progress of Sangley Airport in Cavite…

Posted by Department of Transportation – Philippines on Thursday, 13 June 2019

He also assured that the airport development will continue despite inconveniences to meet the operational timeline set by President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: DOTr orders 24/7 construction of Sangley airport

Tugade earlier ordered the 24/7 construction of Sangley Airport to expedite the transfer of domestic flights to reduce congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Let us not see shadows when there is no sun. If we are all to answer the ‘perhaps’ and the ‘maybes,’ nothing will happen in this country,” he said.

“We should not stop development simply because we are afraid of future inconveniences. Bear in mind that the price of development is an inconvenience,” he added.

During Friday’s inspection, Tugade checked the completed asphalt overlay of the runway, as well as the ongoing construction of the Passenger Terminal Building (PTB), the drainage system, and the hangars.

He also inspected an area for the landing berth of the ferry operations.

The DOTr reported that the construction of additional facilities at the Sangley Airport, which started last year and is now at 48.68% completion rate.

The inspection was conducted in collaboration with the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy.

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Lacson tells Duterte ‘a lifetime thank you’ for MUP pension increase

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson extended a ‘lifetime’ gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for approving the pension increase of some 220,000 retired military and uniformed personnel (MUP) in the government.

“On behalf of the 220,000 MUP retirees, let me say a lifetime ‘THANK YOU’ to PRRD for Joint Resolution No 1,” Lacson said on his tweet on Thursday (June 13).

“No other President has shown such concern for those who served and offered their lives for country and people. All we have to do is continue breathing for as long as we can,” the senator added.

Congress Joint Resolution No. 1 signed by the President authorizes an increase in the base pay of MUPs.

On Tuesday (June 11), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) already released the pension requirements of retired MUPs under the Armed Forces of the Philippines-General Headquarters (AFP-GHQ), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Specifically, the DBM released P29.9 billion to the AFP-GHQ; P21.7 billion to the PNP; P1.9 billion to the BFP; and around P731 million to the BJMP.

“Accordingly, the recently released amounts already include the adjustment of the pension of the retired MUPs as indexed to the base pay scale of MUP in the active service covering the period June to December 2019 based on the available funds as certified by the Bureau of the Treasury,” the DBM said.

Senator Lacson and Senator Gringo Honasan co-authored the Senate Joint Resolution which authorizes the increase in the base pay of military and uniformed personnel (MUP) in the government.

It was approved and signed as Congress Joint Resolution No. 01.  

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