PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte found unconstitutional the P95.3 billion public works items he vetoed in the 2019 national budget, Malacañang said yesterday.
“Those vetoed provisions are in violation of the Constitution or against certain statutes. That was also the statement made by the President,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.
He said the veto was a message to Congress to follow the Constitution.
“Any deviation from the Constitution will not be approved by the President or will not be tolerated,” Panelo said.
After four months of running on a re-enacted spending plan, Duterte signed the General Appropriations Act for 2019 on Monday, quashing P95.3 billion worth of items under the Department of Public Works and Highways that were “outside the government’s programmed priorities.”
Duterte also subjected certain provisions of the budget law to conditional implementation, including allowance and benefits of teachers and the creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects and revolving fund.
Also for conditional implementation are lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements of the foreign service.
Senators welcomed Duterte’s veto, with Senator Panfilo Lacson commending the President and his economic managers for coming up with a national budget free of discretionary funds or pork barrel for lawmakers.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier identified the list of programs and projects that the Senate wanted removed from the national budget, including the P75 billion funded from post-ratification realignments made by the House of Representatives and placed under the Local Infrastructure Program of the DPWH.
“They are in violation of the Constitution, whether you call it pork or beef or meat or fish. Those provisions are violative of the basic charter,” Panelo said.
“Remember the decision of the Supreme Court? The decision of the Supreme Court was that if they are unprogrammed, then, it violates the Constitution,” he said.
The national budget for 2019 was caught in an impasse after members of the House of the Representatives and the Senate wrangled over alleged anomalous budget insertions.