Proposed law on savings tantamount to ‘castrating’ Congress — Romualdez
• August 3, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
HOUSE independent minority bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez warned yesterday that the passage of a proposed law declaring the unreleased and unobligated funds as savings in the national budget on a quarterly basis is tantamount to “castrating” Congress power of the purse.
Romualdez, a lawyer, said the approval of the measure into law would allow Malacañang to “seize” Congress power to appropriate funds.
“Do we want a mockery of the annual national budget? That is a clear case of castrating Congress power of the purse as laid down in the Constitution,” Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), pointed out in an interview.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz agreed with the observations aired by Romualdez.
“On the latest moves to skirt the Supreme Court ruling, we should just follow the decision on savings that are clearly defined us absurd if these are declared savings quarterly or even every semester. Doing so can only mean that the Executive prepared a very bad budget and worse is treating Congress not as an equal but as an adjunct or a foot stool it can just step in or set aside. That is very bad,” de la Cruz stressed.
Romualdez warned of the dangers of the proposal of the administration to have savings declared every quarter or even the middle of the year, explaining this would allow the government to use savings to fund new projects and programs not even mentioned in the national budget deliberated in Congress.
“The early declaration of savings would not only affect or derail approved and studied projects it was taken from, but also would obviate the need for Malacañang to come to Congress and seek its permission for new or supplemental budget,” Romualdez explained on the proposal making a new definition for savings from the national budget.
The Leyte lawmaker pointed out Congress should not surrender its power of the purse where Malacañang is seeking the approval of lawmakers for its annual spending and other appropriations as a matter of checks and balances in government.
The Supreme Court (SC) assailed the practice of declaring savings before the end of the year and was one of the acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that it declared unconstitutional because it violated the definition of savings in past appropriation acts.
Romualdez said Congress must took note of the SC order which declared unconstitutional the withdrawal of unobligated allotment from implementing agencies and declaration of withdrawn allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to end of fiscal year; cross-border transfers of savings of Executive to augment appropriations of other offices outside of the Executive and funding of projects, activities and programs not covered by any appropriation in General Appropriations Act (GAA).