The Palace vowed to strictly implement the cash budgeting system and to ensure the efficient use of public funds in the national budget. This is after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11518 or the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), yesterday, December 28.
“Ayon sa Pangulo, ang pagpirma sa 2021 GAA, ay patunay sa kahalagahan ng aktibong kolaborasyon ng Ehekutibo at Lehislatura, lalo na sa panahon kung saan ang kalusugan at kapakanan ng mga mamamayan ang nakataya. Pinapakita nito na kaya naman pala nating isantabi ang pulitika,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. in his press briefing on December 29 held at the People’s Television (PTV) Network Cordillera in Baguio City.
The Palace official also underscored the President’s message that the national budget is a shared responsibility. “Hinimok nya ang Kongreso na kailangan tama at transparent ang pag-manage ng pondo ng taumbayan base sa sound fiscal policies,” said Secretary Roque.
The President, according to his spokesman, subjected the implementation of certain provisions in the National Budget Act to specified conditions that are consistent with existing laws, policies, rules, and regulations. This is to ensure the efficient use of public funds and avoid duplication of funding, like in the use of infrastructure-related expenses, the implementation of financial assistance to local government units, implementation of rice subsidy, and the prompt release and utilization of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
The Cabinet official said that President Duterte was pleased with the passage of the national budget as it would ensure that the Build Build Build program will continue, it will help revitalize the country’s industry and service sectors, and support the Philippines’ social services projects.
“Ang bawat sentimo, sabi ng Pangulo, ay gagastusin para tiyakin ang pagbangon ng bansa sa susunod na taon,” said Secretary Roque.
Secretary Roque added that as part of the President’s constitutional mandate, the Chief Executive carefully studied the provisions in the national budget and subjected to direct veto some of its provisions. Among those that were vetoed by the President were those with regard to the use of income of some government departments and agencies.
“Ibig sabihin lang po nito, dapat lahat ng kinita ng mga ahensya ay pumasok sa National Treasury at kinakailangan ang paggastos nito ay sang-ayon sa National Budget. So iyong mga probisyon ng Budget Bill na nagsasabi na pupwedeng gastusin ng ilang mga ahensya ang kanilang income, yan po ang na-subject sa direct veto,” explained Sec. Roque.
In his veto message, the President also expressed that existing laws, policies, and regulations have to be observed with regard to procurement-related provisions, grant of allowances and benefits, use of Quick Response Fund, identification of program beneficiaries, construction of evacuation centers, implementation of service contracting, funding of foreign-assisted projects, among others.
“Isa sa final na mga provision sa budget ay yung tinatawag na New Budgetary Items. Nakasaad po sa veto message ng Presidente na yung mga bagong proyekto po na hindi po napasama sa National Expenditure Plan (NEP) at hindi po dumaan sa proseso na dapat nadiscuss po yan sa Provincial Planning at dun sa tinatawag nating Regional Development Councils, eto po ang naging provision,” said Roque.
The Palace spokesman added that these new budgetary items shall be subject to the National Government’s cash programming, the observance of prudent and responsible fiscal management, applicable rules and procedures during budget execution, and approval by the President based on the programmed priorities of the government.
“Ang sabi lang po dapat ito po ay sang-ayon dun sa ating government cash programming at iba pang mga provision ng ating batas. Ang implementation ng mga project na ito ay subject pa rin po sa approval ng ating Presidente based on program priorities of the government,” Roque explained.
On another matter, Roque said that the vaccines administered to some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were given as a donation and can be considered as a token – and not as a gift – given under the circumstances that it is not excessive but necessary to protect the health and lives of people.
Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act, refers to “receiving any gift if the value of the gift is under the circumstances manifestly excessive.”
“Wala pong ginastos na pera galing sa kaban ng bayan dito kaya wala pong nalabag na prayoridad na ating sinabi sa publiko. Ang prayoridad po natin ay nananatiling kapareho pa rin, mga mahihirap, mga matatanda, frontliners both health and otherwise,” Roque remarked. ### OPS-PCOO