Home Economy Marcos should have vetoed P450-B unprogrammed funds hike — Lagman

Marcos should have vetoed P450-B unprogrammed funds hike — Lagman



By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

A PHILIPPINE lawmaker scored President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday for not striking down the P450-billion increase in unprogrammed funds in this year’s P5.768-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA), saying it is illegal.

“The President’s utter failure to veto the excess items aggravates the constitutional defect,” Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said in a statement.

“Consequently, a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court is in order to cleanse the General Appropriations Act of a fatal defect and give guidance to the Congress and the President in the future budget seasons.”

Unprogrammed appropriations are funds on standby in case of additional priority programs or projects when revenue collection exceeds targets.

Under the Constitution, the lawmakers are barred from boosting appropriations recommended by the President “for the operation of the government as specified in the budget.”

Mr. Lagman said the increase has boosted unprogrammed funds which could be used to fund politically motivated projects.

“The unprogrammed appropriations have become the sanctuary of partisan and pet projects where funding and releases for implementation would even antedate programmed appropriations,” the congressman said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel, III said he would challenge the legality of the boosted allocation in unprogrammed appropriations since the Budget department only recommended a total of P281.9 in these funds.

The President had vetoed sections of the 2024 GAA that are related to a proposed revolving fund for the Department of Justice, and a provision related to the implementation of the National Government’s Career Executive Service Development Program.

Mr. Marcos signed the spending plan on Dec. 20, which he called a “battle plan” to boost education, combat hunger, and create more jobs.

“Verily, since the Constitution does not distinguish between the programmed appropriations and the unprogrammed appropriations with respect to the congressional ban, the ceiling of both cannot be exceeded by the Congress,” Mr. Lagman said.

“These are serious allegations which should first be provided with actual evidence by Rep. Lagman, particularly a supposed previous practice in which it has ‘become the sanctuary of partisan and projects.’ In the first place, unprogrammed appropriations remain unfunded appropriations unless and until adequate funding is found by government in the course of the fiscal year.”  Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and convenor of think tank InfraWatch PH, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.


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