Panelo muses on removing budget power from Congress

Published March 14, 2019, 5:43 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling 

Amid the delay in the passage of the proposed 2019 national budget, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has proposed that a single government department should have the authority to disburse public funds instead of Congress.

Panelo suggested the transfer of such budget power after expressing dismay with Congress’ tendency to hold the nation hostage over budget issues.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“Sometimes, I’m thinking nga na dapat siguro wala nang pondo iyang Kongreso [Sometimes I’m thinking that maybe that Congress should not have the funds],” he said during a Palace press briefing.

“There should be one department that should be responsible for all the projects all over the Philippines, iyon lang ang trabaho nila, iikot sila para sabihin nila, ito kailangan. Tingnan natin kung may tatakbo pa sa Kongreso [It will be their job. It will go around the country and say which needs funds. Let’s see if people will still run for Congress],” he said.

Panelo further said: “Palagi tayong nagiging hostage ng away nila eh [They’re always holding us hostage with their fights].”

At present, the Constitution states that no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.

The President recently met with Congress leaders in Malacañang in a bid to help resolve the impasse on the 2019 budget bill. The two houses however reportedly remained at odds over allegations of unconstitutional post-ratification budget realignments.

Malacañang has called on the two houses of Congress to break the stalemate and pass the proposed 2019 spending bill. If Congress fails to approve the budget, Panelo said the government was ready to operate on a reenacted budget.

“The economic managers naman are prepared for that. The services, basic services will continue, magkakaroon lang ng delay [although there will be some delay],” he said.

He urged critics of the post-ratification budget realignment supposedly made by the House to bring the complaint before the court.

“If there is something wrong with the procedures, why don’t they go to the courts para magkaalamanan na [so we will know],” he said.

Asked if the Senate should pursue the case, Panelo said: “It behooves them to file the appropriate charges against whosoever has committed any violation of any law.”