Budget ‘war’

February 11, 2019
Benjamin Diokno

DBM chief says DU30 may veto changes made by Congress before ratifying 2019 budget.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has the final say on line items in the 2019 budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said yesterday , amid allegations of “pork” insertions  in the ratified version of the proposed General Appropriations Act.

In an interview on GMA News’ “News to Go,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the DBM will scrutinize the ratified version, and may recommend that the President veto some items changed by Congress that are not in alignment with what was originally proposed.

Earlier House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya threatened to go to the Supreme Court in the event that President Duterte vetoes the budget which was shorn of the P75 billion outlays which he alleged were actually Diokno’s pork insertions.

The DBM will generate a statement of difference, indicating the line by line differences between the budget as originally proposed and the version ratified by Congress.

“If it’s an improvement over our proposal, we recommend concurral, hindi namin ivi-veto. But if it’s worse than what we proposed, we might recommend a veto—line-item veto,” he said.

The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget, after Congress failed to approve the 2019 budget on time due to issues on insertions and discretionary funds.

Congress on Friday ratified the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019, despite last-minute discussions on alleged insertions allocations covering public works.

Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed at least P48 billion in pork barrel or discretionary funds for members of the House of Representatives found their way into the proposed national budget. This would mean that each member of the House of Representatives would receive P160 million.

Diokno said the Budget department has yet to receive the ratified version of the 2019 budget, but said the statement of difference could be completed in a week.

“As long as it’s an improvement over our proposal, I might recommend the approval of the President— but kung sa tingin namin ay sumama ‘yung composition as a result of the changes, we might recommend line-item veto.”

With a line-item veto covering several items, Diokno noted the President may still approve the 2019 budget as a whole. “Pwede niya i-cross ‘yung isang line and still sign the budget.”

Malacañang earlier claimed that the final version of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 would not contain discretionary funds.