Press Release
March 12, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today assailed the unconstitutional manner by which the additional monthly cost of living allowance for civil servants was presented by Malacañang and approved by the House of Representatives and later by the Senate.

Pimentel said that while he was fully supportive of the employees demand for a pay hike, he was dismayed over the way constitutional procedures were callously disregarded in having the bill passed.

He said he could not see how the allocation of P13.1 billion could be validly passed as a supplemental budget when the P1.05 trillion national budget for 2006, of which it is an integral part, has not been approved yet by Congress.

Logically and by legislative practice, the minority leader emphasized that it is only when the national budget or general appropriations act (GAA) has been passed that any supplemental budget for the fiscal year can be considered and approved by Congress.

I wanted it done according to the Constitution and the law. The moment we take shortcuts with our Constitution, the mischievous implications of that are endless, he said.

To make matters worse, Pimentel said the President jumped the gun on Congress by issuing Administrative Order 144 authorizing the release of P13.1 billion to cover the P1,000 allowance of 1.2 million national government-workers.

The Presidents action, he said, was tantamount to usurpation of the congressional power over the purse and a frontal assault on the legislature which she had asked to approve the compensation measure.

Pimentel said the President hastily decided to release the cash benefit by executive fiat based on the erroneous presumption that the Senate was sitting on the bill.

He said the President, by doing so, wanted not only to spite the senators but also to earn political points at the expense of Congress.

He said had the President bothered to look at the Senate records, she would have learned that there was no delay in the chambers action on the measure.

But according to Pimentel, the problem was the senators found out that the bill was not accompanied by a certification from National Treasurer Omar Cruz on the availability of funds for the purpose, which is required by the Constitution.

However, he said that when Cruz finally submitted the mandatory certification, to the Senate, the President issued Administrative Order 144 on the same day.

The Senate subsequently voted to raise the additional monthly living allowance from P1,000 to P2,000, But Pimentel, along with Senators Jamby Madrigal and Richard Gordon cast a dissenting vote o the measure.

I voted no to this bill not because I do not wish to grant the allowance but that our government workers deserve more and because the process used was wrong.

He said if only the approval of the 2006 national budget was not delayed, there would have been no need to pass a supplemental appropriation to cover the living allowance.

There are weighty constitutional problems that inhere in the matter of the passage of this bill. And I think that while this will remedy a part of the problems of our government workers, in the long run, it is bad for the constitutional government of this country to act on the basis of the blatant misuse of power that we see today being exercised by the President, Pimentel said.

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