Press Release
June 4, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed the hope that the bicameral conference committee will be able to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions of the 2006 national budget as expeditiously as possible to prevent a reenactment of the 2005 budget.

Pimentel warned that a reenacted 2005 budget is bad for the interest of all since this will mean scrapping of new projects and will deprive departments and agencies of much-needed funds to expand delivery of public services, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, education, agriculture, health, science and technology and poverty alleviation.

Perhaps the only person who will benefit from a reenacted budget will be President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because it will be virtually converted into a presidential pork barrel that she can spend according to her caprices, he said.

Pimentel said the long delay in approving the national budget and the threat of resurrecting the previous years budget would have been avoided if only Malacang and the House of Representatives followed the legislative timetable for the general appropriations act.

He said the House approved the P1.053 trillion budget only last April 2006 instead of the middle of November, 2005, giving the Senate and the bicameral committee very little time to deliberate on the money bill.

Pimentel said a reenacted budget is advantageous to the President because she can use the so-called savings from the reallocated funds for projects already completed last year to buy off congressmen to dissuade them from voting in favor of a new impeachment case that opposition lawmakers are poised to file against her.

At the same time, Pimentel expressed reservation over the Senates decision to scrap the P68 million appropriation for the Presidential Commission on Good Government and the P107.2 million for the National Printing Office under the 2006 budget which he said is tantamount to their abolition.

Once the budget of an agency is deleted or reduced to zero, it is deemed abolished. For without funding, how can it support its operations? he said.

However, Pimentel said it is to be expected that the House panel will attempt to convince its Senate counterpart at the bicameral committee to restore the budgets of the PCGG and NPO, as well as other departments and agencies which suffered substantial budget cutbacks.

The Senate voted to cut off the budget of the PCGG after its top officials led by Chairman Camilio Sabio refused to attend Senate hearings on the Commissions proposed budget and on the compromise agreements on ill-gotten wealth cases it is negotiating with the Marcoses and their business cronies.

The NPOs budget was scrapped after it illegally printed primers and other information materials on Charter Change for use by the Sigaw ng Bayan Coalition, which is a non-government organization.

Pimentel said he was not for the total scrapping of the appropriation as of any agency. He said it was his position that all the officials and employees of an agency should not be made to suffer because of the bungling and wrongdoing committed by a few.

However, he said that since the reduction of the budget of the PCGG and NPO was a decision of the majority of the senators, it was deemed a decision of the whole Senate.

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