Budget to breach P6T due to P450-B insertion – Pimentel

Budget to breach P6T due to P450-B insertion – Pimentel

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:44 AM December 14, 2023

Budget to breach P6T due to P450-B insertion – Pimentel

SMALL CONGRESS | Members of a bicameral conference committee approve the national government’s spending bill after inserting P450 billion that was not part of the executive department’s original request. (Photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines — The Marcos administration’s 2024 spending program may face a legal challenge in the Supreme Court after Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday flagged the P450-billion increase in “unprogrammed appropriations.”

According to Pimentel, the national budget next year may actually reach more than P6 trillion, the highest outlay that the Congress had approved, as the unprogrammed allotments ballooned to P731.4 billion.


He said that under the P5.768-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) that the Senate approved on Nov. 28, the amount for such allocations was set at P281.9 billion.


However, he said, the figure soared as lawmakers comprising the bicameral conference committee introduced changes in the budget items under the unprogrammed appropriations.

The opposition senator said this would bring the total national budget to P6.218 trillion as the adjustments were not originally included in the programmed and automatic allotments specified in the National Expenditure Program.

“What happened is that Congress gave the executive branch an authority to spend an amount even greater than what it asked. It’s as simple as that,” Pimentel told reporters.


“It is unconstitutional,” he insisted. “This P450-billion worth of projects, programs or activities under the unprogrammed appropriations did not come from the executive branch … These were not envisioned by [them].”

As mandated by the Charter, the Senate minority leader said the legislative branch may “maintain or reduce the [proposed] appropriations, but it cannot increase the appropriations.”

“When we increased the unprogrammed appropriations, isn’t that violative of the Constitution?” Pimentel pointed out.Asked if he would initiate the filing of a petition before the high court, he said he would just let other lawyers help him “test my [legal] theory.”


For approval

Pimentel said the amounts specified under the unprogrammed appropriations may be released by the Department of Budget and Management under the special provisions of the spending law.

The GAB will be submitted to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his approval after the Senate and the House of Representatives separately ratified its final version on Monday.

The Inquirer asked Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, the chair of the Senate finance committee, for his comment, but he has yet to reply at press time.

But during Pimentel’s interpellation before the Senate ratified the national budget, Angara confirmed the unprecedented spike in unprogrammed allocations.

He said the adjustments were made to “carve out fiscal space in the appropriations for other items” as proposed by the lawmakers.

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“[These were budget] amendments of various departments … in support of the bicameral conference report,” Angara said.

TAGS: 2024 national budget, Aquilino Pimentel III, unprogrammed budget insertions

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