Press Release
October 25, 2009


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said Congress should assert its constitutional power over the purse by seeing to it that all state revenues are reported to it and reflected in the yearly national budget.

Pimentel said the practice of the executive branch to exclude so-called special revenues from the national budget should be discontinued and declared invalid because it goes against the basic principle of transparency and accountability.

He said there is no rhyme no reasons why multi-billion peso government share in the proceeds from Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan is treated as "off-budget" items and therefore, not subject to scrutiny and approval by Congress.

Pimentel also decried that not all income and disbursements of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, as well as remittances of these two gaming agencies to the Presidential Social Fund, are reported to Congress for review and approval.

"This practice is unhealthy because it means that these funds are being handled in a secret manner, giving officials of the executive branch full discretion on where and how they can be spent without being held accountable for such transactions. It also circumvent the appropriation powers of Congress," he said.

He observed that the collection of multi-billion peso government royalties from the commercial production of Malampaya natural gas has been one of the tightly-guarded secrets of the executive branch.

"The money is supposed to be part of the income of the Philippine National Oil Company and deposited with the National Treasury. It is primarily intended to finance the energy exploration projects of the government. But it can also be used to supplement the income of the national government in the forms of dividends. However, nobody -- except perhaps the energy secretary and the National Treasurer -- knows how much revenues from the Malampaya gas have flowed into the government coffers since commercial production started in 2001. Congress is also in the dark how the funds are disposed of," Pimentel said.

The proceeds from the Malampaya gas were identified by the National Treasury as a major part of the sources of funding for the Pl2 billion supplementary budget for the relief and rehabilitation projects in areas devastated by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng

The minority leader said that were it not for the fact that Congress had pressed the executive branch to identify the sourcing of the rehabilitation fund, the National Treasury would not have confirmed the availability of revenues derived from the Malampaya gas project.

In the same manner, he said unless all incomes of Pagcor and PCSO are reported and stated in the annual statement of receipts and expenditures of the national government, there will be no end to the malpractice of using these cash-rich agencies as milking cows of abusive executive officials in power.

Pimentel proposed that a provision be inserted into the 2010 general appropriations act mandatorily requiring all state agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations to declare all their revenues and expenses, and submit them to Congress during the presentation of their budgets for the incoming fiscal year.

He said this is part of a package of measures to enable Congress to strengthen the institutional mechanism to check the financial transactions of the executive branch and restore its exclusive power over the purse that has been eroded through acquiescence to the intrusion or usurpation of such power by the Chief Executive.

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