Civil society group backs call for pork veto | Inquirer News
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Civil society group backs call for pork veto

A civil society group urged President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday to veto illegal realignments in the P3.8 trillion national budget for 2019.

Social Watch Philippines (SWP) said the President can use his line-item veto power to remove changes that the House of Representatives made in the budget bill after it had already been approved by a bicameral committee.

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“To ensure a pork-free budget this year, we appeal to the President to impose his line veto power over all the suspected unlawful amendments,” SWP said in a statement.

Senators delayed the submission of the budget bill to the President after they learned that members of the House of Representatives had realigned P75 billion in public works allocations.

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SWP also urged congressmen to make public the revisions they made after the bill was ratified by a bicameral panel, adding that the Constitution provided that “upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed.”

Old practice

The House’s own rules also stated that no amendment would be allowed on bills that have been submitted by the bicameral conference committee for approval by both chambers, the group added.

But House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro insisted on Saturday that congressmen only itemized lump sums that had also been deemed illegal pork barrel by the Supreme Court.

Castro said congressmen itemized the lump sums to correct the practice of distributing programs and projects based on loyalties and votes on measures.

Castro said the old practice favored former Speaker and Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and his allies.

“If Representative (Luis Raymund) Villafuerte and the other allies of the previous House leadership are not happy with their share of the national budget, there are more than 200 congressmen who think otherwise,” he said.

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The remark appeared to suggest that if the President vetoed certain items in the budget, the House would override it.

But Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who also opposed the realignments, said the Senate would let a presidential veto prevail.

Lacson said he hoped congressmen realized that the Senate would be united to stand with the President’s veto. A two-thirds vote of both chambers is required to overturn a presidential veto.

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TAGS: 2019 national budget, budget insertions, pork insertions, pork veto, Rodrigo Duterte, Social Watch Philippines, SWP
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