Press Release
March 29, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned the administration against making the Senate the scapegoat for the excessive delay or possible non-approval of the 2006 national budget before the regular session of Congress ends in June (Sine Die Adjournment).

Pimentel was irked by Malacañang s reminder to the Senate to speed up the approval of the proposed P1.06 trillion despite the fact that the appropriations measure is yet to be passed by the House of Representatives on third and final reading and therefore has not yet been forwarded to the Upper Chamber.

He said the Senate need not be told by the Palace to expedite the passage of the general appropriations act since the delayed in the budgetary deliberations was caused by Malacañang and its allies in the House.

Pimentel pointed out that the senators have even gone to the extent of convening themselves into a committee of the whole precisely to fast-track the process and in anticipation of the submission of the budget bill to the Senate in mid-November, 2005.

He decried that the budget bill has been with the House for seven months now since it was transmitted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Lower House on August 25, 2005. Now, the Senate is being asked by the Palace to rush its approval during the remaining weeks of the regular session.

Pimentel cried foul over the administrations apparent ploy to blame the Senate over the delayed passage of the national budget amid the lingering belief that a reenacted 2005 national budget is what the President prefers.

They want the burden to be placed on us for the delay in the approval of the budget. No way, we are not playing their game in that respect, he said.

Due to the failure of Congress to pass the 2006 national budget before the end of 2005, the previous years budget was automatically reenacted into law. After repeated suspension of budget deliberations in both committee level and plenary session, the House was able to approve the new budget only last March 22. The House had to wait for at least two weeks more for the printing of the voluminous budget bill before it could approve the measure on third and final reading.

Pimentel said if there are people who should be blamed for the delay in passing the budget bill, it is the President herself and the leadership of the House.

He said the House appropriations committee went idle for one whole month because the President submitted the budget bill only on Aug. 25, 2005, instead of at the opening of Congress a month earlier.

Pimentel said Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. did not bother to crack the whip on congressmen who habitually failed to attend the budget hearings of the House appropriations committee and the floor debates on the appropriations bill, resulting in frequent lack of quorum.

He said the lack of resolve on the part of the Palace and House to hasten the approval of the 2006 budget only fanned suspicion about the Presidents hidden agenda to have the 2005 budget reenacted into law.

The minority leader noted the observation of Sen. Manuel Villar, chairman of the Senate finance committee, that the delay in the House approval of the budget bill was deliberate.

Pimentel said a reenacted budget gives the President a free hand to realign funding allocations according to her whims and caprices, virtually converting it into a presidential pork barrel.

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