Minority bloc: 2015 budget padded with admin funds for poll campaign
MANILA, Philippines—The 19-member minority bloc wants to oppose the passage of the proposed 2015 national budget which they claimed is the administration’s “elections budget.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, 1-Bap Representative Silvestre Bello III claimed that the errata report of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) wants to correct a substantial amount of the budget.
Fellow minority member Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares had claimed that at least P430 billion of the P2.606 trillion budget is part of the DBM errata.
“The errata [are] supposed to mean typographical error[s] or an error in placement of text. We would understand if that’s the case. But if (the errata) [involve] an amount almost equal or bigger than the entire budget, lokohan na ’yan,” said Bello, who was a former Justice secretary.
On Tuesday, appropriations panel chair Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab called Bayan Muna’s claims as “misleading” and said that the DBM wants to correct only P4.7 billion of the budget.
Bello said the minority would oppose the passage of the budget as customary practice.
“Traditionally, the minority has opposed the budget. But with the errata, insertions, and the fact that we even don’t have a copy of the budget as of this moment, we have more reasons to oppose it now,” Bello said.
Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan even called the 2015 budget as the administration’s campaign kitty as it is on the heels of the 2016 presidential elections.
“(The budget) will be (for) political bankrolling and preparation for elections. It’s going to appear that way because of the timeframe (for which the funds will be used) and the amounts involved. It’s going to be a treasure chest for the elections,” Ilagan said.
Ungab cited the following amendments in the budgetary items:
– P3.28 Billion for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
– P998.8 Million for the Bureau of Customs
-P296.9 million for the Department of Tourism
-P93.7 million for the Department of Trade and Industry
-P34 million for the Commission on Human Rights
-P3 million for the Commission on Elections
-P53.5 million for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
-P5 million for the Partido State University, and
-P1.790 million for the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting
Colmenares cited the following as the questionable budget errata:
-P423 billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
-P8 billion contingent fund for the Bangsamoro
-P3.281 billion for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
-P1.6 billion for the Department of Finance-Bureau of Customs, among others.
Ungab clarified that the P8 billion for the Bangsamoro basic law was not approved by the committee. He also said that the P423 billion for the DILG has no basis.
Colmenares then corrected that the P423 billion was for the Allocation for Local Government Units (ALGU) instead of for the DILG.
The lower chamber is expected to approve on third and final reading the proposed P2.606 trillion national budget on Wednesday night, or before the chamber goes on All Saints’ Day break.
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