By Genalyn Kabiling
After he vetoed several provisions in the 2019 national budget, President Duterte has pledged that he will not tolerate corruption and any attempt to circumvent the Constitution.
In a message to Congress released Tuesday, the President asserted that national budget must be well spent and used to improve the plight of the people.
The P3.662-trillion national budget for 2019 was signed into law by the President last Monday after months of delay caused by the Congress’ stalemate on the controversial budget insertions.
Duterte, however, issued a “direct veto” to the P95-billion appropriations inserted in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and 12 other “rider” provisions in the new national budget.
“Allow me to take this opportunity to emphasize that the hard-earned money of the people must be used to improve the condition of our country and their overall welfare. I have said this before and I will say it again – I will not tolerate corruption in my Administration,” the President told lawmakers.
“Our positions should never be used for personal gain; otherwise, we are not worthy of the offices we hold. As public officials, we must honor our offices and the Filipino people whom we serve,” he added.
The President said the new national budget must be “well spent” amid plans to strengthen the economy, ensure peace, and provide efficient public service. He said the government’s development pursuits would be sustained amid the massive spending for economic and social services.
“I call on everyone to continue working together and make sure every peso of this Budget will well be spent,” he said.
“We are ushering in the country’s golden age of infrastructure as we aggressively build our infrastructure assets,” he added.
In applying his veto power on a number of budget provisions, the President explained that he would not tolerate any attempt to circumvent the Constitution or any action that will prejudice the people.
“Any provision introduced in this Budget which does not relate to a particular appropriation or those which seek to amend the Constitution and existing laws have no place in the GAA as these are considered ‘rider’ provisions and therefore, must be subjected to direct veto. Likewise, items of appropriation that are not consistent with the programmed priorities are hereby vetoed,” he said.
Duterte said he has vetoed items of appropriation in the DPWH that are “not within the programmed priorities.” The total amount of the vetoed DPWH programs reached P95.374 billion.
The 12 other provisions subjected to the President’s direct veto are the following:
- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – National Labor Relations Commission Special Provision No. 1 “Use of Income. Duterte said the funding requirements for the regular operations are fully provided under the NLRC budget.
- Special provision on the implementation of projects by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Trade and Industry, and other agencies under Allocations to the Local Government Units -Special Shares of LGU in the Proceeds of National Taxes, Special Provision No. 3, “Shares in Excise Taxes from Locally Manufactured Virginia-type Cigarettes” and ALGU-Special Shares of LGU in the Proceeds of National Taxes, Special Provision No. 4 “Shares in Excise Taxes from Burley and Native Tobacco Products. Duterte said these provisions contravene the laws that mandate LGUs, not national government agencies, to implement such programs.
- ALGU- Local Government Support Fund (LGSF), Special Provision No. 1. “Assistance to Municipalities,” Special No. 2 “Assistance to Cities,” and Special No. 5 “Other Financial Assistance to Local Government Units” on maternal and child health projects
- Special 96, General Provisions, “Cost of Devolved Health Services of Local Government Units.” Duterte said this provision would reduce the Internal Revenue Allotment shares of LGUs, thereby impairing the Constitutional prescription on equitable IRA shares in national taxes.
- Section 91, General Provisions, “Collection of Fees in Relation to the Retention or Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship.” Duterte said such provision removes the inherent authority of the agencies to assess reasonable fees in the provision of services.
- Department of Justice-Bureau of Immigration, Special Provision No. 2, “Special Work Permit.” Duterte said the intricacies brought about by the influx of foreign workers and immigration in the country require collaborative efforts of national government agencies to regulate alien employment.
- National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, Special Provision No.1, “National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program.” Duterte said he cannot allow the use of calamity fund for the relief and reconstruction in calamities that happened more than two years from the budget year.
- Unprogrammed Appropriations, Special Provision No. 15, “Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund.” Duterte said he vetoed the provision for lack of legal basis after he vetoed the proposed coconut trust fund law.
- DPWH-Office of the Secretary Special Provision No. 1, “Special Road Support Fund,” DPWH-OSEC, Special Provision No. 2, “Special Road Safety Fund,” DPWH-OSEC, Special Provision No. 3, “Special Local Road Fund,” and Department of Transportation-OSEC, Special Provision No. 1, “Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund.” Duterte said these provisions were no longer relevant following the passage of a law abolishing the Road Board.
- Unprogrammed Appropriations, Special Provision No. 17, “Prohibitions Against the Use of Unprogrammed Appropriations.” Duterte said the provision hampers the performance of his official duty and limits his power to enter into loan agreements.
- Item, Section 52, General Provisions, “Authorized Deductions.” Duterte said the item, that includes obligations to financing companies, was vetoed for lack of basis.
- Section 66, General Provisions, “Impoundment of Appropriations.” Duterte said this was inconsistent with the authority granted to the President to suspend or stop further expenditure of funds
Also, the President ordered the “conditional implementation” on 12 other budget provisions to ensure conformity with the country’s laws.
These are allowance and benefits of teachers and the creation of teaching positions; construction of evacuation centers; funding for foreign-assisted projects; revolving fund; lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays; financial assistance to LGUs; funding requirements of the Philippine Foreign Service; provision of salaries under the assistance to indigent patients; double programming of funding source; allocation of maintenance and other operating expenses to lower courts; government internship program; and tertiary education subsidy.