Press Release
January 2, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today linked the delay in the approval of the P1.06 trillion national budget for fiscal year 2006 to Malacañang efforts to buy off the support of lawmakers and local government officials through fund releases to neutralize continuing attempts to remove her from office.

Pimentel said that by bribing members of Congress and local executives with funds and projects, President will be hitting two birds with one stone: she hopes to secure their support for Charter Change and for counteracting the anticipated filing of a new impeachment case against her.

As in the four previous fiscal years, he said the 2006 national budget has been deliberately delayed through the connivance of the Palace and leaders of the House of Representatives to pave the way for the automatic reenactment of the 2005 national budget and its virtual conversion into a presidential pork barrel, enabling Ms. Arroyo to realign funds to projects that serve her political purposes.

With the reenactment of the 2005 national budget, he said funds for projects are re-allocated even if they were already completed last year.

What they really want was to reenact the 2005 national budget in which case they can use the funds intended for projects that had already been finished and implemented, Pimentel said.

He said it is very clear that such funds, will be used by the President for her own benefit while the interest of the citizenry was only secondary.

The minority leader decried that the House leadership did nothing to prevent the delay in the deliberations and approval of the 2006 budget even while the Senate took steps to speed up the enactment of what is traditionally the most important piece of legislation every year.

According to the legislative timetable, the House should approve the budget bill and transmit it to the Senate not later than middle of November, 2005.

But when Congress adjourned for the Christmas recess on December 15, 2005 the House committee on appropriations had not even wrapped up the budget hearings. House leaders blamed the frequent lack of quorum for the setback. But Pimentel said Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. did not bother to use his broad disciplinary powers by ordering the erring congressmen to show up in budget hearings and imposing sanctions against those who would defy the order.

Pimentel lamented that the delay in the Houses approval of the budget bill put to naught the Senates conscientious efforts to expedite the process by convening itself into a committee of the whole that conducted budget hearings daily, morning and afternoon.

He said the non-passage of the budget bill was a monumental and inexcusable failure on the part of the House in the light of the constitutional mandate that it is the most important legislative measure and therefore should be accorded the highest priority.-o0o-

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