Palace says it's within Duterte's power to veto certain provisions in the enrolled budget bill
If President Rodrigo Duterte would veto certain provisions, including alleged insertions by lawmakers, in the enrolled budget bill for this year, it would be within his power, Malacanang said on Monday.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House appropriations committee, has warned that he would go to the Supreme Court if Duterte would remove the "pork"-type funds in the P3.757 trillion budget for this year.
"How can you question a veto power that’s lodged in the Constitution? It’s there. It’s a power of the President to veto," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing.
He said what the lawmakers could do is to override Duterte's veto.
"You don’t have to go to the Supreme Court. A President vetoes a measure, then Congress can override the veto by the required number of votes. We have the mechanism," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
During the deliberation of the 2019 budget in the House, Andaya and Other lawmakers questioned Budget Secretary Benjmain Diokno's alleged insertion of P75 billion in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways allegedly to benefit the budget chief's in-laws.
But Diokno denied the allegation and said it was not an insertion since it was part of changes made by the executive in the proposed budget to meet the target infrastructure spending for this year.
He has said it would be up to Congress to decide on the matter when the budget was still being discussed.
Both the House and the Senate made adjustments on the budget by allocating multi-billion funds to their pet projects and for congressmen, to their districts.
After months of deliberation, Congress approved last week the proposed budget for 2019 and the enrolled bill is now with the Office of the President and undergoing review.
Andaya has accused Diokno and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, former Davao City congressman and chair of the House appropriations committee, of manipulating the budget by restoring the P75 billion that the DBM allegedly inserted in the DPWH budget.
He has said if the two Cabinet officials succeed in the "evil scheme" of restoring the P75-billion insertion, he would join other lawmakers in questioning the veto message of the President in the Supreme Court.
While it is within the power of the President to veto, Panelo said it would be the right of Andaya and other lawmakers if they would go to the Supreme Court.
If this happens, he still expressed optimism that the government's infrastructure spending would not be affected unless the high tribunal would issue a temporary restraining order.
"The President, as we said, will be scrutinizing every phase, every provision of the budget. He wants to be sure that it is in conformity with the Constitution. And he will veto anything that he feels is not correct or irregular," Panelo added. Celerina Monte/DMS