No choice for Duterte but to veto P75B–Drilon
President Duterte has “no choice” but to veto the P75 billion worth of realignments made by the House of Representatives in the 2019 budget after the ratification of the conference report since Senate President Vicente Sotto III refused to recognize them.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum on Thursday that, based on a 1997 Supreme Court ruling, only the President had the authority to approve a bill passed by Congress.
“[T]he President has no choice but to veto [the P75 billion] because the Senate President said that portion of the bill was not validly passed,” Drilon said.
“And if it was not validly passed, it could not be signed into law as a whole, because … the President can exercise the so-called line-item veto,” he added.
Sotto, in a letter attached to the budget bill sent to Malacañang, expressed “strong reservations” about the P75-billion realignments, saying he considered these unconstitutional.
He also urged the President to exercise his veto power on the realignments in the P3.8-trillion bill.
Drilon said he based his “legal conclusion” on the Supreme Court ruling and his “factual conclusion” on Sotto’s attestation.
But Duterte would have no legal liability if he chooses not to veto the P75 billion, Drilon said. Approving the realignments would not be an impeachable offense, he added.
President’s veto power
“There is no liability because the power to veto is a power of the President under the Constitution,” he said.
But if Duterte approves the P75 billion worth of items which were not included in the bicameral report, the funds’ release for various projects “can be questioned in the courts,” Drilon said.
The House realignments fund projects under the local infrastructure program of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The matter had been at the center of the impasse between the Senate and the House and held up the transmittal of the budget to Malacañang for a month.
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