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Rody to sign P3.35-T budget today
President Duterte is scheduled to sign the proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 national budget today.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, who chairs the House of Representatives appropriations committee, said yesterday the signing ceremonies would be held this morning in Malacañang.
He said leaders of Congress led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III have been invited to the ceremonies.
The 2017 outlay is Duterte’s first budget proposal.
Although the spending measure during the first half of this year was approved during the Aquino administration, the Duterte administration made adjustments when it took over on June 30.
Nograles said the House and the Senate approved a spending program that is “responsive to the needs of the Filipino and all sectors of society, and is in line with the priorities of President Duterte.”
Earlier, he said the budget program for next year has no congressional pork barrel funds or what the Supreme Court (SC) has considered as such.
Based on a 2013 SC ruling striking down the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional, a pork barrel fund is a lump sum whose details are supplied by lawmakers after the national budget is enacted, and legislators have a role in project implementation.
The tribunal declared that members of Congress should have no participation whatsoever in the use of funds and project execution after they have approved the budget.
However, lawmakers are not prohibited from identifying projects and funding them while they are considering the annual outlay.
The PDAF was the official name of the congressional pork barrel. It allocated P25 billion a year for members of Congress – P200 million for each senator and P70 million for each House member.
When the House was deliberating on the 2017 national budget, members were asked to submit to the appropriations committee a detailed list of projects worth P80 million each for inclusion in the outlay.
It was not clear if senators were asked to do the same, but the SC ruling on PDAF does not prohibit them from doing so while the budget is pending in Congress.
Nograles said the House and the Senate made sure that as far as possible, all projects, programs and activities and their corresponding appropriations have been listed in detail in the budget.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said the proposed budget was in line with Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda as the chamber made sure that it funds the necessary services needed by Filipinos.
These include universal healthcare, free tuition for all in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and additional funds for social services, she said.
The Senate also allocated funds for free irrigation, additional funds for prisoners’ subsistence allowance, pension for post-World War II veterans and centenarians, among others, Legarda said. – With Paolo Romero