pork barrel

Palace steers clear of Senate war

Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malacañang is in no mood to act as a referee between warring factions in the Senate over its operational budget.

Communications Secretary Ricardo Carandang on Thursday invoked the principle of separation of powers in refusing to comment on the Christmas “cash gift” doled out by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to senators apparently loyal to his leadership.

“I don’t think the Palace has to comment on what is essentially an internal matter in the Senate. It’s better, I think, it’s well appropriate, to ask the senators themselves who are involved in the issue,” Carandang said at a Palace briefing.

Told that Enrile was giving away taxpayers’ money to members of the majority bloc, Carandang said: “We will not comment.”

The secretary was also mum on whether it was legal for the Senate to treat its savings as “institutional entitlements,” and thus purportedly beyond the reach of the national treasury.

Under the law, unspent savings should be returned to the treasury at the end of the year to be made available for other pressing programs of government, including infrastructure projects, antipoverty initiatives and social services.

“The Senate has fiscal autonomy from the executive. We can’t tell them how to spend their money,” Carandang said. Michael Lim Ubac

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Tags: Government , Juan Ponce Enrile , Politics , Senate , State budget

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