Speaker favors limiting presidential discretion on Malampaya funds-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is backing proposals to limit the discretionary powers of the president in the use of Malampaya funds by amending a Martial Law-era decree.
"Even if it's the sole discretion of the president, you should still put qualifiers. Even if you leave it to the discretion of the president, there would still be certain limits. The purposes should be defined," Belmonte, a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III, said.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone earlier filed House Bill 2960 to amend Presidential Decree (PD) 910, which states that the royalties from the Malampaya gas fund should be used to "finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government."
The use of Malampaya funds was questioned after more than P900 million of the gas fund were supposedly misused during the Arroyo administration.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, along with other former government officials, have recently been charged with plunder for abusing Malampya funds diverted to farmer-beneficiaries affected by typhoons "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" back in 2009.
Arroyo and Ermita cited as defense PD 910, which allows the fund to be used "for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President."
"It can be a stand of the whole majority to come out with an amendment which I think the president himself, based on what we talked about, was in favor of...President Aquino was talking about coming with a amendatory thing to remove such a wide open thing or at least put guidelines into it. Because it’s basically without guidelines except the good intentions of the president," Belmonte said on possible amendments to PD 910.
But Belmonte is also in favor of using the Malampaya funds for other government programs, such as, job creation and livelihood projects.
"Not necessarily for CCT (conditional cash transfer); perhaps not for that at all. Well, there are a lot of other problems aside from energy like job creation," the House Speaker said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)