Press Release
February 10, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today dared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to state categorically whether she still wants the P1.05 trillion national budget approved by Congress in view of her latest order restraining Cabinet members and their subordinates from attending budget hearings in accordance with Executive Order 464.

Pimentel said the order including attendance in budget hearings of Congress in the coverage of EO 464 reinforces the oppositions long-held suspicion that the administration would rather see the P918.6 billion national budget for 2005 reenacted into law and made applicable for the entire current fiscal year.

Its becoming more and more obvious that the Palace wants the 2005 budget to be reenacted. If this is not the agenda, why are the President and Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. not doing anything to avoid further delay in the deliberations and approval of the budget bill? he said.

The Minority Leader said the Speaker did not bother to crack the whip on congressmen to compel them to attend plenary sessions of the House of Representatives and ensure that there is a quorum while the budget bill was being taken up on the floor.

Pimentel lamented that Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr., Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, failed to deliver his sponsorship speech on the 2006 budget Wednesday night for lack of quorum.

He said the Presidents directive lifting the exemption on budget hearings and confirmation hearings for presidential appointments in Congress from the coverage of EO 464 spelled the death knell for the 2006 budget and betrayed the administrations intention favoring reenacted 2005 budget.

Through reenactment of the 2005 general appropriations act, Pimentel said the budget will be virtually converted into a presidential pork barrel and the constitutionally-mandated congressional power over the purse will be rendered meaningless.

He said reenactment means that funding allocations even for programs and projects already completed in the previous year will be re-allocated, giving the President a free hand to realign them to pork barrel and other projects that she can use to bribe members of Congress and local government officials who will toe the administrations line.

Pimentel said the trickery had been used so callously by the administration in previous years and is bound to be repeated this year especially in view of the threat of another impeachment case against the President.

He said the enactment of a P13.1 billion supplemental budget for the monthly allowance of state workers merely lends credence to the administrations plan to scrap the 2006 national budget in favor of reenacting the 2005 budget. He said it is ridiculous to call the funding for the P1,000 monthly allowance a supplemental budget since this is part and parcel of the P1.05 trillion budget for 2006.

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