Gutoc: Reenacted budget would hurt Marawi rehab, 2019 election
MANILA, Philippines — A re-enacted budget would badly affect the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the conduct of the 2019 midterm elections, opposition senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc said on Monday
Gutoc, a civic leader from Marawi City who used to be a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, asked lawmakers of the 17th Congress to reconsider proposals to adopt a re-enacted budget for the whole of 2019.
“Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) administrator Ricardo Jalad earlier said at least P12 billion is needed to rebuild Marawi, and only P3.5 billion is allotted for it in the proposed 2019 national budget,” she said in a statement.
“This budget is till P8.5 billion short of the needed funds and if we continue operating under the 2018 reenacted budget, the P3.5 billion may not be used to rehabilitate our city,” she added.
In a previous report, Jalad said that the figures were identified after a two-day consultation of TFBM with its members. And if the remaining P8.5 billion is not appropriated to the task force, then it is highly possible that the projects, including rehabilitation, would be delayed.
Gutoc also sounded alarm on the possibility that teachers who would sit as members of the Board of Election Canvassers would not be paid immediately, while supplies deemed essential by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the elections may not be bought.
“Bukod sa Marawi rehab, maapektuhan din ang mga pasweldo sa mga manggagawa ng gobyerno. Maaaring iba na ang pangangailangan ng publiko ngayon kumpara sa nakaraang taon. Bakit natin gagamitin ang parehong budget?” she asked.
“No less than Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez admitted that teachers won’t get their honorarium for serving in the May elections if we would end up using the reenacted budget. Marami ring supplies na kailangan sa eleksyon ang hindi mabibili,” she added.
According to Jimenez, a reenacted budget would have a profound impact on the polls, as the honoraria for election workers were not placed as a line item in the 2018 budget, which makes it unavailable if the proposed 2019 budget is reenacted.
A proposed budget for a whole fiscal year — like the P3.7 trillion 2019 budget — which has not been signed into law before the prior year ends — in this case, 2018 — automatically becomes a reenacted budget.
Under a reenacted budget, projects for the year would not be funded. Also, a reenacted budget gives the President the option to determine which projects will be prioritized.
“How convenient is this for the present administration. Under a reenacted budget, the President historically has the power to declare portions of the 2018 budget as savings and channel it on their chosen programs,” Gutoc noted.
“Lawmakers are representatives of the people. They are expected to pass this vital legislation that is based on the needs of the Filipinos. Dapat maging transparent and accountable ang Kongreso kung talagang tunay silang representante,” she added.
The proposed 2019 budget was not ratified and signed within 2018 because of accusations and revelations that it had pork insertions or lump-sum funds allocated to a lawmaker’s pet project.
Pork barrel was initially deemed unconstitutional in 2013, following corruption issues such as the pork barrel scam where lawmakers allegedly placed a part of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects or bogus non-government organizations, such as the case of scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Recently, both chambers of Congress have been in talks, to iron out differences concerning lump sum funds. House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro said in a previous report that they expect the 2019 budget to be ratified on Wednesday.
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