By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab stood firm Thursday on his view that there is nothing illegal in the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget, amid allegations that there are “pork insertions” in the spending measure.
The chairman of the House committee on appropriations said Congress approved the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) without any illegal provisions.
“We know that the President will not tolerate attempts to circumvent the Constitution or any other action that will prejudice the Filipino people. That is why Congress ensured that the GAB was enacted in accordance with law, rules, and Supreme Court rulings and jurisprudence,” Ungab told the Manila Bulletin, when asked if he is confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will not veto any provisions of the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2020.
But he said it is up to Duterte if he will veto provisions that he finds “not aligned with his priority programs.”
“We understand that the veto power is an exclusive power vested by the Constitution in the President of the Philippines. He may or he may not exercise this power, depending of course on his judgment and legal basis whether or not the alterations made by Congress in his executive budget are in line with the priorities of his administration,” Ungab said.
“It is within the President’s discretion to either veto those provisions he finds not aligned with his priority programs directly, or set conditions on the implementations of these programs or projects,” he pointed out.
In a press conference also on Thursday, the Makabayan bloc accused the House leadership of “rushing” the ratification of the bicameral report on the 2020 GAB on Wednesday afternoon.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said the bicameral report was only given to them 10 minutes before the ratification.
“We were only given a few minutes to scan the budget before it was ratified,” Zarate said.
He said in the coming days, they will scrutinize the ratified bicam report to “validate” pork barrel allegations made by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Castro called on the House leadership to be “transparent” and “accountable”.
“Disprove the allegations of Senator Lacson, be transparent and accountable because this is people’s money,” she said.