Press Release
June 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned that any decision on the part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to veto the 2006 national budget if the cuts made by the Senate are not restored would only reinforce the perception of her dictatorial tendency -- her propensity to disregard the constitutional processes, including the exercise by Congress of its power over the purse

That should not be her attitude because that would imply that she is not respecting anymore the power of Congress to appropriate funds for the operations of government, he said.

Pimentel blamed the Presidents inflexible stand against the budget cuts and realignment of funds made by the Senate for the continuing deadlock in the bicameral conference committee and failure to strike a compromise between the Senate and house versions of the P1.053 trillion budget.

If the President wants to play hardball, she will get hardball from us because we are not peons of the President that she can tell us to follow what she wants, he said.

The minority leader said Mrs. Arroyo will be answerable to the people if she would veto the 2006 budget, that will result in automatic reenactment of the 2005 budget. He said this would be a big blackeye to the Arroyo administration, noting that this will be the fourth time that the previous years budget is reenacted.

Pimentel said that if the 2006 budget bill is vetoed by the President, the people will ultimately suffer because new projects cannot be implemented for lack of funds.

He said the reenactment of the 2005 budget will result in reallocation of funding for old projects even if these were already completed during the previous year.

Pimentel said the reallocated funds will be treated as savings which can be realigned by Mrs. Arroyo to whatever projects or activities that catch her fancy and therefore assume the character of presidential pork barrel.

On the Presidents claim that there was no need to slash the budget proposals of the executive branch since these had been thoroughly studied, the minority leader said this is belied by the insufficient funding for the Department of Education, especially in solving the acute shortage of classrooms.

On the scrapping of the P3 billion Kilos Asenso and P3.69 billion Kalayaang Barangay Funds, Pimentel said the senators found out that no specific project proposals were submitted by the Office of the President. He said substantial portions of these funds were transferred by the Senate to the cash-short departments and agencies to strengthen their capability to delivery essential public services.

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