Press Release
April 3, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged Malacañang to justify its plan to allocate more than P2 billion for the plebiscite for Charter amendments considering that this is not included in the proposed 2006 national budget.

Pimentel said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot just order the release of funds for a plebiscite without asking for authorization from Congress.

Where will they get the money? No public funds can be spent for any purse without the approval of Congress which has the power of the purpose. It should follow the process prescribed by the Constitution, he said.

Reacting to reports that more than P2 billion funding for the plebiscite will be taken from the Presidents Contingent Fund, Pimentel reminded the Palace that such fund was intended for activities that are emergency in nature, or those that have not been anticipated.

He pointed out that Charter Change does not fall under category of unanticipated activities since it has been in the drawing board of the administration for a long time now.

Moreover, the minority leader said such plan would deplete the Contingent Fund to the prejudice of emergency or unexpected activities for which the fund was created.

They cannot simply bypass Congress in allocating such a huge sum of taxpayers money for the planned plebiscite. Therefore, any attempt to use public money for purposes other than what they are intended for is illegal, unconstitutional and may even constitute technical malversation of public funds, Pimentel said.

The reports that the Contingent Fund will be tapped for the plebiscite were attributed to Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House committee on appropriations.

Pimentel said the plan to siphon off the Contingent Fund to the plebiscite on Charter amendments shows the Presidents propensity for disregarding Congress specially on matters of appropriations just so she can do whatever she wants.

Earlier, the President jumped the gun on Congress by issuing an administration order for the release of the monthly P1,000 cost of living for civil servants even if the legislature was still deliberating on the measure that she had certified as urgent.

This shows that this lady does not care what the Constitution says as she insists that whatever she wants should be followed. That can be done under a martial law regime. That can be done by a king or emperor but not under a democratic government, Pimentel said.

The minority leader also voiced suspicion that public fund was used in printing millions of copies of the form on Charter Change that registered voters were asked to fill up during the March 25 barangay assemblies and the house-to-house campaign.

Pimentel said the forms are being distributed by the Department of Interior and Local Government through its regional directors, and provincial, city and municipal development officers throughout the country.

The DILG masterminded the printing of the forms because they are similar throughout the country. Meaning to say, there was only one source and public money was spent for it.

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