Andaya to Sotto: Quit name-calling, name senators behind budget cuts
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of resorting to “name-calling,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III should name all the senators who are behind the budget cuts and identify where they have realigned funds in the 2019 budget bill, House appropriations panel chair Rolando Andaya Jr. dared on Tuesday.
Andaya issued the challenge after Sotto called him “delusional” for accusing the Senate of “sabotaging” the programs of the Duterte administration.
The Camarines Sur 1st district representative on Monday said the Senate “unilaterally decided” to cut down about P83.7 billion of allocation for priority projects, including those under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure plan.
“The Senate President has resorted to name calling and language engineering in a bid to divert public attention from the drastic budget cuts imposed by the Senate on the President’s major infrastructure projects and social programs,” Andaya said in a statement.
The district congressman said all Sotto has to do is to explain to the public why the Senate slashed the budget not only of infrastructure projects but also of pension for uniformed personnel and retirement benefits of government employees.
“Now is also the time for him to reveal the names of all senators who made budget cuts and show the items where these were realigned,” he added.
“In the spirit of transparency,” Andaya also gave out photocopies of original documents showing the extent of budget cuts imposed by the Senate on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
The documents, which were sourced from the enrolled bill, indicates the breakdown of the P83.7 billion of budget cuts allegedly made by the Senate.
Access the documents here:
While Sotto said the lower House’s allegations were made as a “last-ditch effort to influence the President not to veto their illegal realignment,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson has owned up to most of the cuts in the GAB because of the alleged presence of illegal “pork barrel” or “lump-sum, discretionary funds” primarily used to fund pet projects.
“While I was the main proponent of most of the cuts which I did only upon the requests or concurrence of the agencies, I was aware of the presence of ‘pork,’ thus my dissenting vote on its ratification,” Lacson said in a Twitter post Monday.
The country would continue to operate under the 2018 reenacted budget until President Rodrigo Duterte signs the expenditure plan which Sotto sent last March 26.
But Sotto advised the Chief Executive to veto the P75 billion worth of programs under the Local Infrastructure Program of the Department of Public Works and Highways which he said had been “unconstitutionally” realigned by the House after the GAB’s ratification on February 8.
Andaya revived his tirades against the Senate on Monday after his known political rival, Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Vilafuerte Jr., had accused the House leadership of “illegally realigning” over P90 billion in public works and health funds from the ratified GAB to “favored lawmakers.” /muf
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