Lacson wary over rising unprogrammed funds in nat'l budget

Lacson wary over rising unprogrammed funds in nat’l budget: ‘Bad precedent’

/ 06:33 PM December 21, 2023

Former senator Panfilo Lacson expresses concern over the seemingly increasing unprogrammed funds in the government's annual budget.

Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Panfilo Lacson expressed concern over the seemingly increasing unprogrammed funds in the government’s annual budget.

Lacson said it would be a “very bad precedent” if this practice of putting extra items in the unprogrammed funds – added to what was already proposed by the Executive Branch in the National Expenditures Program (NEP) – becomes normalized by Congress in the future.


He lamented the lack of clarification on the matter by the Supreme Court. He said the high court should clarify Article VI, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that Congress, in crafting the annual budget, should not increase the appropriations recommended by the President.


In the case of the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Lacson noted, the NEP amounts to P5.768 trillion which supposedly serves as a ceiling for the year’s budget.

“If not clarified by a  Supreme Court’s interpretation of Art VI, Sec 25 of the 1987 Constitution, what can prevent Congress from adding P1-trillion or even more in the next succeeding budget deliberations, so we borrow more to fund the excess in the Unprogrammed Fund under the NEP,” Lacson pointed out in a statement.

“Needless to say, this is a very bad precedent,” he added.

The increase in the unprogrammed funds for the 2024 GAA was first revealed by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, who said that Malacañang’s original proposal of P281.9 billion was pumped to P731.4 billion – a P450 billion increase.

READ: Pimentel bares P450-B hike in 2024 unprogrammed funds

Pimentel said this effectively breaches the P5.768 trillion ceiling prescribed by the NEP.


Pimentel also said that the 2024 national budget may be considered unconstitutional because of this issue.

Lacson – a known fiscalizer during budget deliberations when he was still part of Congress – agreed with Pimentel, noting that next year’s spending plan would already breach the P6-trillion mark due to additional itmes under unprogrammed funds.

READ: Hike in 2024 unprogrammed funds is unconstitutional – Lacson

Lacson also observed that Congress “has developed the new penchant for realigning the budget to and from the Unprogrammed Appropriations to fund their pet projects.”

“To illustrate my point – under the 2022 GAA, Congress managed to realign to the Unprogrammed Appropriations under the Special Purpose Fund the amount of P100B, while under the 2023 GAA, they realigned a total of P219B to the Unprogrammed Appropriations,” he noted. sought the Office of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and other concerned offices for their reaction regarding Lacson’s assertions, but they have not yet replied as of posting time.

On Wednesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed into law the P5.768 trillion GAA, which Romualdez said ensures an uninterrupted delivery of essential programs and services.

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The early enactment of the budget provides assurance that the country would not be operating on a reenacted budget for 2024.

TAGS: 2024 national budget, Panfilo Lacson

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