Duterte in a bind over budget veto – Zarate
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte appears to be in a bind whether or not to veto supposed insertions of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), Bayan Muna party-list Rep, Carlos Zarate said on Friday.
“Kaya nga ang tawag natin dyan, talagang Pangulong Duterte is pork-bind, dahil ‘pag kinampihan niya ang House, magagalit ang Senate. Pag kinampihan niya ang Senate, magagalit ang House,” Zarate explained in a briefing inside the House of Representatives.
“Well, ang Senate, nananawagan na i-veto ni Pangulong Duterte ‘yong P75 billion ng House insertions, but sabi naman ng House meron ding P84 billion ang Senate. Sa amin, kahit saan mo ito tignan, yung 75 (billion) ng House or ‘yong 84 (billion) ng Senate, malinaw itong pork barrel,” he added.
President Duterte has established an alliance with the House, as Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vowed to back the Chief Executive’s legislative agenda when she assumed the speakership in July 2018.
With Duterte’s recent warning that he might be forced to veto the entire budget, however, it could affect his relationship with Arroyo and other House members forming the super majority, according to Zarate.
If the President leaves the GAA as it is, and allows it to be enacted after the 30-day period prescribed by law, Zarate said it would be the worst possible scenario.
“Well if it lapses into law then all the pork barrel are intact. Intact ‘yong pork ng Senate, intact din ‘yong pork ng House, everybody happy. That’s the worst scenario for our people,” he claimed.
In 2013, at the height of the pork barrel scam where lawmakers were accused of allocating their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-government organizations, the Supreme Court declared the pork barrel system unconstitutional.
This year, both the Senate and the House passed the proposed 2019 budget albeit with the controversial insertions, which other lawmakers believe is no different to a pork-barrel system.
What should be done instead, according to Zarate, is to divert the funds towards essential public services.
“Dapat siguro ang pondo na ‘to, dalhin doon sa mga ahensya na talagang makakatulong at papakinabangan ng mamamayan,” he noted. /gsg
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