Malacanang details vetoed line items in 2019 budget

Maris Federez   •   April 16, 2019   •   2777

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the 2019 General Appropriations Act at the Malacañan Palace on April 15, 2019. (King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

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.

Read: Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

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)

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)

Malacañang: No risk in POGO hubs near military camps

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang believes there is nothing wrong with the location of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs near military camps following concerns about its possible risk to national security.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Chinese-dominated POGO hubs’ will be better protected if these are near military installations.

“Military camps? Eh di lalong magaling kung military camps dahil binabantayan sila ng military for their protection,” he told reporters in an interview.

However, Panelo said he would defer to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperson to assess any security issue being posed by foreign operated online gaming operations.

“The Palace will always defer to the National Security Adviser on matters of security in the country,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, said that providing protection to POGO hubs by the military is a “very valid suggestion,” but this is not part of their mandate.

However, he assured they are ready to help when their assistance is requested.

“That’s a very valid suggestion. But it is not the job of the military to watch or protect the POGO workers,” Lorenzana said.

“That is the job of the Bureau of Immigration, Police, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. If our assistance is requested, we will assist,” he added.

Esperon has yet to issue any comment on the issue as of this posting.

Several lawmakers earlier raised a concern about Chinese-dominated POGO hubs near military camps and other vital installations, saying these pose risk to the country’s security.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) earlier defended its decision to situate POGO hubs and its foreign workers in areas near military camps for their security and rights protection.

Pagcor chairperson and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo said hubs for online casinos and self-contained communities were mainly created to provide basic needs and ensure the safety of foreign workers employed in POGO hubs. She added that POGO workers are free to go wherever they want to.

Domingo’s statement came after the Embassy of China in the Philippines raised concern over the creation of self-contained communities as this might violate Chinese workers’ liberties.

“So, if their liberties are not restricted and according to them, ginagawa nga nila iyon to protect them, so, kung ganoon naman ang essence noong paglagay sa kanilang lugar, I don’t think that will be a violation,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Police presence not a solution to communist recruitment in schools— Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang expressed concern over reports of alleged student recruitment in universities and campuses across the country to join the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

However, the Palace is not keen on deploying policemen inside university and college campuses since student recruitment by rebels is done discreetly.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that though Malacañang sees nothing wrong with joining progressive groups as an avenue to express one’s sentiments to the government, the case is different when a student joins an organization promoting ideologies that seek to destabilize the government.

Panelo added that it is still important for parents to remind their children to be wise in joining student organizations in schools.

“Kung papasok ka sa mga organisasyon…na ang intensyon ay pabagsakin ang gobyerno, wrong iyon (if [a student] joins an organization that intends to destabilize the government, that would be wrong),” Panelo said.

“Pero (But if) you join organizations to express legitimate grievances against (the government) gobyerno, certainly it’s not,” Panelo concluded.

Panelo noted, meanwhile, that a thorough study is highly necessary before the Palace considers the proposal to revive the anti-subversion law to end insurgency in the country. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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