Gov’t disaster response to suffer sans lump sum items in budget, warn 2 senators | Inquirer News
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Gov’t disaster response to suffer sans lump sum items in budget, warn 2 senators

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 03:31 PM January 14, 2014

Senators Sergio Osmeña ans Francis “Chiz” Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines –  Two senators defended on Tuesday  the legality of  the lump sum amounts in the  2014 national budget now being questioned at the Supreme Court, saying that the funds would give the executive branch “flexibility” to immediately respond to urgent situations like calamity.

“It’s legal definitely right now unless it’s declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said in a phone patch interview.

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Escudero issued the statements when sought to react to a petition filed before the high tribunal seeking to declare as unconstitutional the lump sum appropriations in this year’s budget.

In a 21-page petition, Greco Antonious Belgica said the lump sum funds contradicted the SC’s decision, declaring the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “pork barrel” funds “unconstitutional.”

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Among the lump sum items identified by  the petitioner are the Unprogrammed Fund amounting to P139,903,759,000);  the E-Government Fund (P2,478,900,000);  Contingent Fund (1,000,000,000); and Local Government Support Fund (P405,000,000),.”

“Paano mo naman ia-itemize yun, hindi mo pa alam yung kalamidad na tatama sa atin (How  can you itemize it if you don’t know what are the calamities that will  hit us)? ” Escudero said.

“At alalahanin natin,  maski Korte Suprema, may lump sum appropriations din sila dahil nga binibigyan nito ang Korte Suprema ng flexibility na makagalaw, makadesisyon at maka-adjust sa panawagan ng panahon,” he said.

(And we should remember, even the Supreme Court  also has lump sum appropriations  because  it gives the Supreme Court flexibility to act, decide and  adjust to the call of the time)

Escudero said the lump sum amounts, if not utilized,  will  become  savings  of the executive.

“Savings ng department, which under the law will be savings of the executive,”  he pointed out.

But even the savings,  the senator said,  may be considered a lump sum item.

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“Paano yun? Bawal yun? Bawal magka-savings? Anong gagawin natin dun? Under the Constitution, pwedeng gamitin ng executive yung savings, na kung bawal yung lump sum, bawal nilang gamitin yung savings?”

By tradition, Escudero said,  all parliaments of the world  pass lump sum amounts in the budget.

“Kasi nga it will remove the flexibility of the government to react to certain situations,” he stressed.

Senator Sergio Osmeña, who also defended the passage of  the  2014 budget on the floor, said it would be “very unrealistic”  for the high tribunal  to declare the lump sum items unconstitutional.

“I really doubt the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional because there’s  simply no way anybody can predict what are the disasters that will hit the country,” Osmeña said in a separate interview with reporters.

“If you can predict that, I think you will make a billion dollar.  Everybody will know when to buy stocks and when to sell stocks.  So it will be very unrealistic for the high court to make such a decision,”  he added.

Related stories

SC asked to nullify lump sum items in 2014 budget

P14-B supplemental budget just presidential lump sum

 

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TAGS: 2014 budget, Calamities, lump-sum funds, News, Pork barrel
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