Escudero sees no violation in senators’ P1.8 billion-fund realignment
MANILA, ,Philippines – The P1.8 billion that the nine senators had realigned to calamity fund and various projects in the 2014 budget was not considered “pork” as defined by the Supreme Court, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Thursday.
“The Supreme Court defined ‘pork’ to mean the power of a congressman or a senator to interfere or intervene after the budget is enacted,” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said in an interview with Radio Inquirer 990AM.
“Pero yung pag-realign ng pondo by way of an amendment, pagbago ng special provision ng budget by way of an amendment, hindi yun paglabag sa decision ng Korte Suprema and certainly that does not make it pork,” he said.
(But the realignment of budget by way of an amendment, an amendment of a special provision of the budget, is not a violation of the decision of the Supreme Court).
Escudero clarified that the Supreme Court, in declaring “pork” unconstitutional, prohibits the lawmakers’ intervention in the implementation of projects after the budget was approved by Congress.
The decision, he said, was based on the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive .
“Ayon sa korte, iba ang kapangyarihan ng Kongreso sa kapangyarihan ng executive. Ang Kongreso ang dapat na nagpapasa ng batas, ang executive ang dapat nagpapatupad. So once napasa na daw ang batas, hindi pwedeng manghimasok o makialam ang mambabatas sa pagpapatupad ng batas,” he pointed out.
(According to the court, the power of Congress is separate from the power of the executive. Congress should pass laws, and the executive should implement it. So once the law is passed, the lawmakers cannot intervene or interfere in the implementation of the laws)
Escudero explained that when the proposed budget reaches the Senate, for example, it can propose any amendments to the amount presented by the President or the executive department.
But once the budget is approved by Congress and transmitted to the President for signature, then he said, the President or the executive can decide which items it would fund or not.
“Sa ilalim ng PD1177, may kapangyarihan ang Presidente na piliin ano-ano bang items ang popondohan nya at ano ba yung hindi. The projected deficit for 2014 is P266 billion,” Escudero further explained.
(Under PD 1177, the President has the power to choose what items to fund or not to fund. The projected deficit for 2014 is P266 billion).
Escudero was reacting to the reported P1.8 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “pork barrel” funds that the nine senators had realigned to various projects. The 15 other senators decided to deduct their PDAF from this year’s budget.
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