Congress losses power over purse in 2013 budget, says Joker

SENATOR Joker Arroyo expressed disappointment over the passage of the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA) saying that Congress losses again to Palace on its power of the purse.

“Over the years, every President seeks to enlarge his powers in the budget.  And over the years, every Congress feebly tries to rescind this executive encroachment but the legislature always loses out.  For the 2013 budget, the President has more powers than in the 2012 budget.  Congress has hopelessly lost its power of the purse,” Arroyo explained after opposing the bill.

Voting 14 in favor and Arroyo against, the Senate approved the P2.006 trillion national budget  in the third and final reading. Those who voted in favor were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Franklin Drilon Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Sergio Osmena and Vicente Sotto III.

“Again, I am constrained to vote against the 2013 General Appropriations Act despite the general fairness in the allocation of funds to the various agencies of government which has to be commended,” Arroyo said.

However, Arroyo said he found faults in its passage because the budget prepared by Malacanang, the budget approve by the House and the budget approved in Senate are all Xerox copies without any deviation from each other.

“All these three look alike as if they are xerox copies.   Aren’t we expected to scrutinize and if need be, make changes thereon?” Arroyo asked.

He added that this year’s budget with gargantuan lump sum appropriations which are ultimately disposable by the President, directly and indirectly, has become bigger.

“This is anathema to budget making.  Itemization of expenditures, whenever possible and practicable, is the preferred mode,” he said.

Arroyo also lamented that it took the Senate only 5 days of passive plenary deliberations, from sponsorship to period of amendments, to complete the debate on the P1,368,328,156.00 budget for 2013.

“In contrast, we spent 2 weeks of heated debates on the P40 billion sin tax measure,” he said.

“By Congressional submission, the President’s power to impound appropriations rightfully due legislators remains intact.  That is why legislators cannot go against the President,” Arroyo concluded.

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