Duterte vetoes nat’l budget provision on disclosure of intel funds spending to Congress
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a provision in the 2021 national budget requiring the disclosure to Congress how intelligence funds would be spent.
In his veto message made public on Tuesday, Duterte said “all activities involving intelligence gathering that have a direct impact on national security and public safety shall be reported directly to me.”
“Consequently, I have to directly veto the proviso…which effectively requires the submission of quarterly reports on the use of intelligence funds to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate of the Philippines,” Duterte added.
The President further noted that “matters relating to national security are deemed confidential or classified information.”
“I may agree or disagree but if it involves national security, then I can see his point,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a message to reporters when sought to comment on the President’s move to veto the said provision.
“The security cluster insists that there are members of Congress who are sympathizers or allegedly connected to the CPP/NPA [(Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army]. PRRD probably thinks it’s best not to telegraph the Executive’s intel actions,” he added.
In his 14-page veto message, the President also vetoed provisions on government agencies’ use of income. He noted that all income of agencies shall accrue to the national government’s general fund unless authorized by a separate law.
“[P]rovisions allowing agencies to use their income without separate legal bases are not only considered as ‘riders,’ but will also have the effect of reducing the sources of financing of this year’s budget while increasing the appropriations of the agencies beyond their approved expenditure levels,” Duterte said.
Vetoed by the President are the special provisions on the Department of Labor and Employment’s alien employment permit, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s use of income, the Philippine Racing Commission’s use of income, and the Optical Media Board’s confidential fund.
Duterte also rejected the provision authorizing the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to utilize its excess dividends, noting that all government-owned or controlled corporations are required to declare and remit at least 50 percent of their annual net earnings as cash, stock, or property dividends to the national government unless the national economy and general welfare requires the percentage to be adjusted.
What was referred to as “inappropriate provisions” were also vetoed by the President in the budget. This includes special provisions in the Department of Transportation’s public utility vehicle modernization program and the Public Attorneys Office’s forensic laboratory division and more.
“The FY [fiscal year] 2021 national budget is quite unique as it has been crafted amidst the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” said Duterte.
Yet, it remains geared towards our ultimate aspiration for the Filipino people — ‘matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay,’ building upon the gains and lessons from past years,” he went on.”
Duterte signed on Monday the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 which he said is a year the Philippines “intend to recover as one.” – with a report from Christia Marie Ramos
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