Budget bill lawful, Zubiri insists | Inquirer News

Budget bill lawful, Zubiri insists

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:00 AM December 18, 2023

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — There was nothing unconstitutional in the bicameral conference committee’s decision to add nearly P450 billion in “unprogrammed appropriations” in the government’s 2024 budget, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Sunday.

According to Zubiri, this was not the first time that the unprogrammed allotments were adjusted after the Senate had already approved the final version of the spending program during its plenary debates.


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III had earlier claimed that the changes made by lawmakers comprising the bicameral body flouted the Constitution as it actually increased by P450 billion the budget request that the executive branch had submitted to Congress.


The Constitution partly provides in Article VI, Section 25, without qualification, that “the Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law.”

‘Just a standby authority’

Zubiri argued that the constitutional prohibition only covered the programmed appropriations or budget items that were specifically allotted with funds as requested by the respective state agencies.

However, the unprogrammed allocations, he stressed, was just a “standby authority” to spend since these items or projects did not have a specified source of funds.

“This will be the 21st national budget that we have tackled [since I became a lawmaker]. It’s been done in [previous] budget seasons … I don’t believe it is unconstitutional,” Zubiri maintained.

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TAGS: 2024 national budget, Juan Miguel Zubiri

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