Power over the purse-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
I AM here at the GMA 7 Network Center in Quezon City for a two-day conference of radio station managers under Radyo GMA (RGMA) Network.
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said that under the 2015 national budget that the executive department will start to prepare in December, there will be no item for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel for members of Congress.
PDAF won’t be given another name because it will totally be gone, he said. The 2014 national budget, which is being tackled by Congress, still contains the PDAF item.
The executive department can no longer withdraw the said item because it was submitted last July yet prior to the ongoing brouhaha over the pork barrel.
Because of public outrage over the misuse of the pork barrel funds, President Noynoy Aquino was pressured to announce the abolition of the PDAF over the weekend. But for me, it was a sort of “consuelo de bobo'” and merely meant to appease the public. A cross-section of our society held a protest action last Monday in key cities nationwide calling for the complete abolition of the pork barrel.
If Aquino is really determined to abolish the pork barrel, then he should no longer allow lawmakers to have access to public funds for project implementation and purely focus on legislation. But Malacañang indicated that lawmakers' discretion in “nominating” projects to line agencies crafting the national budget would not be clipped. After all, Congress has the “power over the purse.”
That discretion, Malacañang noted, cannot be removed from Congress because it is a constitutional mandate. Congress is also a co-equal branch of the executive department. Is Malacañang playing it safe to avert any confrontation with Congress?
Section 24, Article 6 (The Legislative Department) of the 1987 Constitution states: “All appropriations, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.”
Section 25 (1): “Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law.”
(2): “No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriations therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriations to which it relates.”
(3): “The procedure in approving appropriations for the Congress shall strictly follow the procedure for approving appropriations for other departments and agencies.”
(4): “A special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended, and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposal therein.”
With the above provisions, there is no question that all matters pertaining to appropriations is an exclusive and inherent power of the Congress. But even if Congress has the “power over the purse” and if they insist on it, there is also that veto power of the chief executive.
If the President does not agree with Congress regarding appropriations, then all he has to do is exercise his veto power on the General Appropriations Act.
Ka-simple ana. Kana og desidido gyud ang Presidente nga makigbangga sa Kongreso. Pero magbinayot siya, aw, way ayo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 28, 2013.