Lawmakers: Redefining savings could abuse Congress power of the purse

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Saturday, August 2, 2014


MILITANT lawmakers believed that the Aquino administration's plan to redefine the meaning of "government savings" could abuse the Congress' power to purse, which could later lead to the destruction of the system checks and balance.

Bayan Muna party-list Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate said that the proposed new definition that administration lawmakers are planning to file in the House of Representatives "will unduly delegate to the President the power to re-appropriate budget in the middle of fiscal year".

"President Benigno Aquino III is insisting that his unconstitutional acts be entrenched in the national budget. That is an act of defiance against the Supreme Court ruling," said Colmenares.

Also, the House Senior Deputy Minority Floor Leader assailed the P501.67 billion huge lump sum budget of the executive in the 2015 proposed budget.

Malacanang submitted last Wednesday the P2.606-trillion proposed national budget for next year to the House of Representatives. The budget proposal is up 15 percent from this year's budget of P2.265 trillion.

"With the lump sums in the proposed budget and President Aquino's command to Congress to change the definition of savings, he wants to legalize the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and insert it in the budget," Colmenares said.

Zarate said Aquino is creating a "budget dictatorship and wants to permanently undermine the power of the purse of Congress".

He noted that the proposal "is patently unconstitutional and runs smack of castrating Congress in performing one of its primary duties".

"President Aquino's moves also indicate that he wants to do away with the budget deliberations and oversight of Congress and concentrate this upon himself," Zarate added.

Zarate believes that the Chief Executive still wants the DAP to continue, which was recently declared illegal by the Supreme Court (SC) to continue.

Meanwhile, Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez called out his fellow legislators to oppose the P501.67 billion lump sum appropriations or Special Purpose Funds (SPF) under next year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) since "it does not give full information about its transparency".

He said Congress should show more transparency and accountability by not allowing a big lump sum funds in the national expenditure program for next year.

"That amount is very huge and a Congress championing transparency and accountability that this administration has been bragging about should bar such appropriation because it does not provide the full details as to where the funds will be spent," the lawmaker said.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the P501.67 billion was to be set aside as SPF to be used for "calamity funds, contingency funds, miscellaneous personnel benefit funds, pension and guarantee funds, the Internal Revenue Allotment (for local government units), debt service or interest payments" and other items. (Sunnex)

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