Romualdez: let sc define savings
• August 4, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
House independent minority bloc leader and Leyte (1st District) Rep.Ferdinand Martin “FM” G. Romualdez yesterday urged Congress to leave the duty of defining savings to the Supreme Court.
Romualdez, a lawyer, said Congress should take note of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling which 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.
“Why not leave the duty of defining savings to the Supreme Court? After all, the SC already made a ruling on this matter,” Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), stressed.
The House opposition leader said Congress must also take note of the SC ruling which declared unconstitutional the withdrawal of unobligated allotment from implementing agencies and declaration of withdrawn allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to end of fiscal year; cross-border transfers of savings of Executive to augment appropriations of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).
But Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said it would be better if Congress pass a law to define savings.
“A separate law to that effect is better so that we will be clarified and guided accordingly,” Belmonte pointed out.
Earlier, Romualdez warned 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.
He said the approval of the measure into law would allow Malacañang to “seize” Congress power to appropriate funds.
Last Thursday, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone filed House Bill (HB) No. 4770 allowing the government to consider as savings the unused funds from the national budget every three months and with a validity of six months beginning from the day that the funds were declared savings.
This came after President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III asked Congress in his budget message under next year’s P2.6006-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to “clarify the definition and use of savings and augmentation.”
But Romualdez 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.