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Senator seeks veto of double appropriations

A senator on Friday asked the Executive branch to veto overlapping and double appropriations in the reconciled version of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

“It is clear that questionable items such as double and overlapping appropriations should be vetoed, along with at least 793 line items for multi-purpose buildings with a uniform P1-million appropriation each,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson told DzRH radio on Thursday night.

Mr. Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee and a member of the bicameral conference committee, objected to the ratification of the national budget on Wednesday.

The senator had flagged the provisions during the period of interpellations. He questioned the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways that increased by P28.35 billion in the reconciled version of the budget bill.

The bicameral conference committee allotted P694.822 billion to the DPWH, higher than P667.3 billion originally.

The questionable provisions had been included as a concession to congressmen and to avoid delays in the budget ratification, Mr. Lacson told an online news briefing on Friday.

He said he plans to write to the Executive branch, identifying the items that he thinks should be vetoed. The senator was among those who questioned a total of P95.3 billion “unconstitutional” items in the 2019 spending plan, which was later vetoed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Mr. Lacson raised some P83.87 billion worth of infrastructure projects that were “migrated” while P55.52 billion “disappeared.” He said the P83.87 billion was used to create new DPWH items or augment other items, while the other P55.52 billion consisted of items that had been completely removed.

“Since there is a difference of P28.35 billion, they had to extract from the programs, activities and projects of other departments or agencies to make up for the shortage,” he said in a separate statement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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