Press Release
June 20, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the legality and propriety of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos release of public funds without congressional authorization, such as the P1 billion additional allocation for the campaign against communist insurgency, will always be under a cloud of doubt as long as the 2006 national budget remains unapproved by Congress.

Pimentel said the Presidents propensity to disburse taxpayers money without securing the approval of Congress only makes her vulnerable to criticisms that she is resorting to dictatorial or authoritarian rule.

Also the lone senator from Mindanao added that as of today, several families in Bukidnon who have nothing to do with the insurgency war have already been evicted from their homesteads because of the Presidents ill-advised all out war policy. He warned that such a move on the part of the President as commander in chief of the Armed Forces could place the far flung areas of the country in a state of turmoil and could adversely affect the state of law and order in the urban areas also.

He said there is no question that more funds are needed to keep government troops in fighting form and a supplemental P1 billion funding for military hardware and other requirements will go a long way in winning the battle against the armed insurgents.

But it cannot be that they will use public funds without the authorization of Congress. This has become a repetitious problem. In my view, it would be better if we will have a new budget that incorporates appropriations to upgrade the capability of the armed forces, Pimentel said.

And if the President wants to augment the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to boost its fighting capability against rebels and terrorists, she will have to comply with constitutional process by seeking the authorization of Congress. Without that, she will turn herself into a dictator.

The minority leader said it could be expected that the President, in the next several weeks, would announce the release of funds for various projects from a supposed pool of savings resulting from the automatically reenacted 2005 national budget.

Such savings, he explained, are artificially created from the reallocation of funds even for projects already completed by virtue of a reenacted budget. What is wrong with this practice is that funds are spent without the benefit of a review or scrutiny of Congress, he said.

That should not be the case because taxpayers money could not be spent by the President merely on the basis of her wish or caprice, Pimentel said. The approval of Congress is a requirement that must be followed in the use of public funds.

Pimentel said Congress should not give up in breaking the impasse over the proposed 2006 national budget to prevent an unhealthy situation where the reenacted previous years budget is virtually converted into one jumbo-sized presidential pork barrel.

He said the President doesnt look a bit bothered about the failure of Congress to pass the P1.053 trillion national budget, obviously because she will exercise a lot of discretion in dispensing funds under a reenacted budget.

I am confident that when the regular session reopens in July, Congress will still be able to pass the budget bill, Pimentel said.

Despite the deadlock, I still believe that eventually members of the Senate and House of Representatives will realize that the approval of the 2006 budget will be the most advantageous option.

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