No such thing as zero budget for opposition lawmakers’ projects: Diokno

December 21, 2017 - 5:02 PM
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MANILA – Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno has taken exception to reports that opposition lawmakers’ proposed 2018 projects will not get funding, saying that this information “was based on some misinformation.”

In a briefing Wednesday, Diokno said some districts will have reduced appropriations although he declined to give specifics on the adjustments.

“But there will be a distinction between those who are allies of the administration and those who are not,” he pointed out.

The Budget chief said this system is not new since this has been in the policy even before Martial Law.

He, on the other hand, clarified that projects to be funded, or those that will not be financed, did not only come from lawmakers’ proposal but also from district engineers and provincial governors, among others.

He said funding will also depend on how worthwhile the projects are.

Asked if it is legal to change the appropriations instead of funding it based on the proposal, Diokno said “Congress can do that.”

“We went through the process – – the House, the Senate, the various committees. So, what came out of that? Congress has the power to authorize, that’s their power,” he said.

Diokno, meanwhile, clarified that Congress has the power to authorize the budget but not implement the projects.

“The budget is the most political tool for legislation that’s why it involves both Congress and Executive,” he added.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law the 2018 General Appropriations Act or the P3.767-trillion national budget.

Next year’s budget is 12.4 percent higher than this year’s P3.350 trillion and accounts for about 21.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Bulk of the funding was allocated for social services at 37.8 percent, followed by economic services, 30.6 percent; general public services, 17.4 percent; debt burden, 9.9 percent; and defense, 4.3 percent.