Diokno: Changes in nat'l budget after Congress OK is ‘abuse of discretion’ | Inquirer News
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Diokno: Changes in nat’l budget after Congress OK is ‘abuse of discretion’

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 10:12 AM March 06, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — If members of the House of Representatives “changed the composition” of the national budget after it has been approved by Congress, it is an “abuse of discretion” and “unconstitutional,” former Budget Secretary and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno Jr. said Wednesday.

Diokno issued the remark after Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the realignments of P25 million budget from the Department of Health (DOH) for her “favored” congressmen.

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READ: Lacson: Arroyo realigns P25M budget to ‘favored’ solons

Diokno agreed with Lacson that the move is an “abuse of discretion” if proven.

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“Probrably, Senator Lacson is correct that it is abuse of discretion,” Diokno said during his last press conference as Budget Secretary.

“If individual X will simply on his own, change the composition of the budget after it has been approved by the joint conference committee and both Houses of Congress, that is unconstitutional,” he added.

House Appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya Jr. earlier claimed that the House is only “itemizing” the appropriations under the ratified 2019 budget, “fleshing out lump-sum funds,” to make the budget “more transparent and easy to scrutinize.”

READ: Andaya: House only itemizing, not manipulating 2019 budget

However, Diokno said there is no “lump-sum” funds in the budget the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has earlier submitted and legislators are “replacing” the items the DBM originally placed in the proposed budget.

“I don’t recall any lump-sum items in our budget. I think they are replacing what we originally put there with their own items,” he said.

Diokno maintained that there is a budget process that has to be followed and changes have to be vetted out by both chambers of Congress.

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“There is a process, individual legislators cannot change that,” he said.

“The changes have to be vetted out by both houses of Congress working as congress, that’s the Supreme Court decision,” he added. /muf

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TAGS: Benjamin Diokno, BSP, Congress, DBM, National Budget
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