House passes 2014 GAA on 3rd reading
PDAF realigned to specific items under 6 agencies
MANILA (UPDATED) - The House of Representatives has passed on 3rd and final reading, House Bill 2630, which appropriates a P2.268 trillion national budget for the government in 2014 with the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of legislators realigned to specific items under 6 executive agencies.
The bill passed with a roll call vote with 219 voting in favor and 22 voting against. After 2 rounds of voting, some congressmen arrived late and tried to get their votes into the record. As such, the journal now reflects that 223 voted in favor, with 24 against.
Since the bill was certified as urgent by President Aquino, voting on 3rd reading proceeded even if copies of the bill was just given out this afternoon, a move protested by Navotas rep. Toby Tiangco.
Tiangco pointed out that copies of the budget bill were only given out this afternoon. The budget bill is in 3 books. The 1st book has 1,107 pages, the 2nd book has 964 pages, and the 3rd book has 1,154 pages.
The bill deletes the P25.4 billion PDAF of legislators and the Office of the Vice President and realigned it to specific items in the departments of public works and highways (DPWH), education (DEPED), labor and employment (DOLE), health (DOH), the Technical Educational Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the commission on higher education (CHED).
DPWH: P9.65 billion
CHED P2.66 billion
DEPED P1.02 billion
DOH P3.69 billion
DSWD P4.71 billion
DOLE P3.69 billion
TOP TEN AGENCIES
According to Budget Secretary Butch Abad, the DEPED still tops the list of agencies which got the lion’s share of the budget.
House appropriations committee chair Isidro Ungab said there was no difference in the ranking even after some agencies received realigned privileges.
The top 10 agencies that will get bulk of the budget are:
Department of Education
Department of Public Works and Highways
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of National Defense
Department of Health
Department of Agriculture
Department of Social Welfare and Development
Department of Transportation and Communication
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Department of Agrarian Reform
The proposed budget gives more money to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to cover 4.44 million households and 10.2 million children beneficiaries, and provide support for high school students.
For the DPWH, the bill appropriated P7.056 billion for regional and local infrastructure projects. Each congressman was asked to submit proposals for infrastructure projects in their district. Each project cannot be less than P2 million but the total of all projects must not be more than P24.5 million for each congressman.
The bill as passed does not specify which local project was nominated by a single congressman, since the projects were all listed with the original projects of the DPWH not nominated by congressmen.
The bill as passed also only listed infrastructure projects that conformed to the requirement that congressmen were asked to nominate only the following kinds of infrastructure projects: local roads and bridges, classrooms and academic buildings, multi-purpose buildings and levels 2-3 water supply systems. Only these kinds of projects were included in the budget bill.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF LGUs
The bill will also hold local government units accountable for the maintenance of the infrastructure. It also bars the implementation of the projects through civil society organizations, whether non-government organization or people’s organization.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte denied rushing the passage of the bill, saying there were minor changes from the time the bill was changed. The only major change he said, was the realignment of the PDAF.
“Those were the basic changes, those were the changes accepted, ano naman bago rito andun na yung mga lump sums," he said.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said they would have wanted many off-budget items to be included in the budget. Off-budget items are not subject to congressional scrutiny.
"Malampaya remains an off-budget item, that’s P130 billion. There's other lump sums like PAGCOR and PCSO and MVUC. These are still very large amounts that have no controls, no accountability, responsibility for whoever allocates. We have said that our most important concern is that the budget doesn't have an economic roadmap,” Zamora said.
Among the presidential lump-sum items which critics wanted removed from the discretion of the Office of the President are the following:
P46.69 billion - Budgetary support to government-owned-and-controlled corporations
P1.00 billion - School building program
P2.50 billion – E-Government fund
P12.00 billion - Department of Agriculture (Farm-to-market road)
P44.63 billion - Department of Education (various items for school buildings)
P11.39 billion - Various Infrastructure Including Local Projects
P13.30 billion - Department of Health (Health Facilities Enhancement Program)
P5.10 billion – Department of Agriculture (Irrigation fund)
These were, however, retained.
Zamora said some of his allies in the minority proposed infrastructure projects though the Makabayan bloc did not.
Because of this, the independent minority bloc earlier slammed the budget which it said is not really "pork-less."
Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said "personally, we're against pork barrel system...we have to be consistent. Masakit na andito pa rin sa budget na aaprubahan.. Congressmen will be asked again to list down a shopping list on how to spend portions...pork barrel is still in the budget."
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said they made their infra project proposals.
"We have made proposals in the course of the budget deliberations for public works, we submitted...projects and programs to the agencies such as DPWH and DSWD pursuant the function of the appropriations in one form or the other orally or in writing," he said.
Atienza added, the approval of the budget should not be rushed since there may be pending questions on the use of savings in the budget.
Critics have panned the realignment of the PDAF, saying it is just a reincarnation of the old system prone to corruption and misuse.
BUDGET WITH NO DAP, PDAF
The independent bloc earlier vowed to push for a national budget which is free of DAP or PDAF, and any other similar lump sum or special purpose funds, when the House deliberates and votes on the General Appropriations Act on third and final reading.
In a statement, the group had said, "We maintain our position that the DAP was issued and implemented by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, accented by palpable violations of the Constitution and penal laws. The DAP has defiled the great trinity in the triadic separation of powers. The DAP, which is a 'toxic golden pig,' was veiled and implemented as a law even though it was admittedly established by the DBM and not by Congress. The DAP is funded by the DBM from unspecified or tainted sources not approved by Congress."
The bloc pointed out Malacanang itself has admitted to the misuse of the DAP funds. "The DAP is the magic wand that transmogrifies public funds, and the classic anathema to the constitutional mandate: No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law (Sec. 29, Art. VI of the Constitution) and the injunction that the President may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items in their respective appropriations" (Sec. 25(5), Art. VI of the Constitution).Unless the DAP is declared unconstitutional, the people will remain restive and agitated."
In a bloc statement, the group said, "We maintain our position that the DAP was issued and implemented by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, accented by palpable violations of the Constitution and penal laws. The DAP has defiled the great trinity in the triadic separation of powers. The DAP, which is a ‘toxic golden pig’, was veiled and implemented as a law even though it was admittedly established by the DBM and not by Congress. The DAP is funded by the DBM from unspecified or tainted sources not approved by Congress. “
Now that the budget has been passed on 3rd reading at the HOR, it will proceed to the Senate for its own consideration of the measure.