Press Release
June 11, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today lashed back at Malacañang and the House of Representatives for ganging up on the Senate for the stalemate over the 2006 national budget, branding it as a ploy to hide their responsibility for the fiasco.

Pimentel said the Palace and House are largely to blame for the failure of Congress to pass the P1.053 budget before the June 8 adjournment, accusing them of outright deception for trying to portray the Senate as the villain and calling for its abolition.

He said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo showed lack of concern for the speedy deliberations and passage of the 2006 general appropriations bill by submitting it to Congress only on August 25, 2005 instead of a month earlier to prevent any delay, as advised by congressional leaders.

Pimentel said the budget bill got stuck in the House for eight months but neither the President nor Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. cracked the whip on their congressional allies to solve the problem of lack of quorum in the committee on appropriations, which severely derailed the deliberations on the measure.

Consequently, the budget bill was approved and transmitted by the House to the Senate only in the third week of April, 2006 instead of mid-November, 2005.

So if the national budget was not passed, it was their fault not the Senates, Pimentel said.

He also assailed the President for showing more interest in having the 2005 national budget reenacted, than in helping resolve the Senate-House impasse on the budget bill. This only reinforced suspicion that the Chief Executive harbored ulterior motive in not having the new budget passed.

Pimentel said the bicameral conference panel on the budget convened with an ominous warning from the President that she would veto the budget bill if the cuts were not restored. And yet he said the President ruled out any suggestion for a special session to give the panel more time to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the bill.

The minority leader refuted the allegation of the Palace and administration congressmen that the senators acted unreasonably by scrapping certain budget items like the P3 billion Kilos Asenso Fund and the P3.69 billion Kalayaan Barangay Fund, reducing the budget allocations of certain departments and agencies and realigning a huge portion of the excised funds to needy agencies.

He argued that the Senate decided on the budget cutbacks and realignments with the public interest in mind. He said the Senate refused to go the way of the House which passed the Palace-crafted appropriations measure almost intact.

Pimentel said while it is true that the number of bills approved by the Senate was far from impressive, its failure to pass most of the legislative measures emanating from the House would not harm the nation since the bulk of them are bills of local application, such as seeking the changing of names barangay, hospitals and schools, which are better left to local government units to do.

Its true that we were able to approve only small number of bills. On a scale of one to ten, in terms of legislative output, the Senate should be rated 6. But when it comes to investigation, which is an equally important task of the Senate, perhaps we deserve a rating of 9, he said.

Pimentel expressed the belief that the people generally appreciates the Senates job of investigating anomalies and checking the performance of the executive branch a task that the House has fallen short of.

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