Rep. Edcel Lagman questions constitutionality of 2024 national budget | Inquirer News

Rep. Edcel Lagman questions constitutionality of 2024 national budget

/ 05:30 AM January 03, 2024

Lawmaker questions constitutionality of 2024 national budget

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel lagman. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Senior lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman maintained on Tuesday that the constitutionality of the 2024 national budget should be challenged before the Supreme Court to “cleanse the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of a fatal defect” after Congress added P449.5 billion to the appropriations originally proposed by President Marcos.

Lagman, also the president of the opposition Liberal Party, said a ruling by the high tribunal on the matter would guide Congress and the President in future budget discussions to avoid a repeat of the “fatal flaw” in crafting the GAA.


“This year’s GAA, which took effect on [Jan. 1, 2024], suffers a constitutional infirmity insofar as the bicameral conference committee inserted P449.5 billion in excess of the unprogrammed appropriations of P281.9 billion recommended by the President in the national budget or the NEP (national expenditure program),” he said in a statement.


The addition, Lagman noted, bloated this year’s unprogrammed appropriations to P731 billion.

Utter failure

According to him, the President’s utter failure to veto the excess items “aggravates the constitutional defect.”

Lagman cited Article VI, section 25 of the Constitution which states that “Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government as specified in the budget or the NEP.”

He pointed out the prohibition covers both programmed and unprogrammed appropriations. While programmed appropriations have available budgets, those unprogrammed have budgetary sources limited to the release of new loan proceeds for foreign-assisted projects, revenue collections from new tax laws and increases in nontax revenue collections over target.

“The 2024 NEP recommended a total of P5.768 trillion for programmed appropriations and P289.1 billion for unprogrammed appropriations, the total of both cannot be breached by Congress,” Lagman said.

“It is well settled that when the Constitution does not distinguish, we must not distinguish. Since the Constitution does not distinguish between programmed and unprogrammed appropriations with respect to the congressional ban, the ceiling of both cannot be exceeded by Congress,” he added.


Lagman noted that through the years, there was a mistaken notion that only programmed appropriations could not be increased by Congress beyond what was recommended in the NEP.

As a result, “it is the unprogrammed appropriations which have been invariably increased annually to accommodate even partisan and pet projects, which are subsequently funded and released during the fiscal year under the suspicious, or even spurious, claim that contingent funding has been realized,” he said.

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According to him, unprogrammed appropriations have become “the sanctuary of partisan and pet projects where funding and releases for implementation would even antedate programmed appropriations.”

TAGS: 2024 national budget, Edcel Lagman

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