By Raymund Antonio
President Duterte should only veto the “questionable” items in the proposed 2019 budget instead of the bill in its entirety, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“Sana iyon lang iyong i-veto, kasi ang tagal tagal—parang several months iyong iginugol ng Kongreso para lang pag-usapan iyong budget. Kung ivi-veto, parang sinayang mo lang,” she said on her Sunday radio show.
(I hope that’s the only thing to be vetoed—Congress spent several months to discuss the budget. If it will be vetoed, you seemed to have wasted everything.)
Robredo wants Duterte just to veto certain provisions of the budget bill, apparently referring to the House of Representative’s post-bicameral conference realignments.
This was the P75 billion worth of public works funds inserted into the 2019 budget, which the Senate had asked Duterte to veto.
The Vice President raised concerns over the President’s threat to veto the P3.757-trillion budget should he find irregularities, saying the delays would affect the delivery of basic services to Filipinos.
“Ang magsa-suffer nito iyong mga basic services. Halimbawa sa health, sa education. Ang dami ngayong hindi gumagalaw na mga programa, ang sasabihin ng mga agencies, hindi pa kasi napipirmahan iyong budget,” she said.
(The basic services will suffer. For example is in health and education. Many programs do not progress because the agencies would say the budget is yet to be signed.)
“April na. Tapos na iyong first quarter. Hindi pa din. So kung ivi-veto pa ngayon, at this point, grabe na. Grabe na. Naghintay na tayo nang matagal tapos wala pa din pala,” Robredo added.
(It’s already April. The first quarter had passed, we still don’t have the budget yet. So if it is vetoed at this point, that’s too much. We’ve waited so long for nothing.)
Robredo, who is lawyer and Liberal Party chairperson, explained once government operates on a reenacted budget, it could increase the risk of corruption.
“The President has a lot of elbow room to decide where the funds go. So there will be a big risk to have corruption in government budget, right?” she said in Filipino.
The Vice President could not help, but wonder whether the reenacted budget would be used for political gains.
“Pero ngayon na budget, ‘di ba, parang, ang tagal-tagal nang nasa inyo, nagkaroon na ng bicameral conference committee. Noong ibinalik, tinago niyo ulit? Eh ‘di ba sumusunod lang kayo sa kagustuhan ng Pangulo? So sinasadya ba ito? Sinasadya bang i-delay ito? Sinasadya ba na iyong budget last year iyong gamitin?” she asked.
(But the budget now has been with you for a long time, you had a bicameral conference committee. When it was returned, you hid it again? Aren’t you following the President’s orders? So is this intentional? Is the delay to pass the budget intentional for the budget to be used last year?)