Malacañang distances self from ‘zero’ budget of opposition solons

The Executive branch has nothing to do with the opposition solons’ zero budget for 2018, Malacañang said on Thursday.

At a news briefing in Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the issue should be addressed to Congress’ leadership.

“I’m sorry but that question is based on the wrong premise that we control Congress. There is separation of powers. Congress has exclusive and primary jurisdiction in the preparation and approval of the budget,” Roque said.

“We had nothing to do with whatever decision both houses of Congress had on the alleged deprivation of projects as far as opposition congressmen are concerned. That’s something that should be addressed to the leadership of both houses of Congress,” he added.

Roque said that Malacañang does not even know if the opposition solons will receive zero budget for 2018. But if that will be the case, he said the Executive could not do anything about it.

“It’s not a decision that we make because all public funds must be supported by an expenditure law. So it’s not for us, a decision for the Executive to make, it’s a decision that Congress makes,” he said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said that political allies of the Duterte administration in Congress get the priority in budget allocations for various projects that have been identified.

“Budget is the most political tool for legislation,” he said.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. was one of the lawmakers who supposedly did not receive budget allocations for projects under the 2018 General Appropriations Act of P3.767 trillion.

“My constituents in Ifugao are taxpayers too. The allocations would have improved the national roads to the rice terraces and poor upland communities,” Baguilat said.