REENACTED 2009 BUDGET FAVORS MRS. ARROYO’S PRESIDENTIAL BET – BINAY

PRESS RELEASE
1 SEPTEMBER 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said the anointed presidential candidate of the Arroyo administration will benefit from a reenacted budget in 2010.

“Given the possibility of a reenacted budget in 2010, whoever Mrs. Arroyo will anoint will surely benefit from her presidential pork barrel alone which she can disburse at her discretion, and the leeway given to her to realign the budget,” he said.

Lawmakers have said the national government is likely to operate on a reenacted 2009 budget for the first few months of 2010, which also coincides with the campaign period for the national and local election. They said Congress would be hard put mustering a quorum since lawmakers would already be busy campaigning for reelection.

Binay said the same strategy was used by the Arroyo administration in 2004, when it also operated on a reenacted budget.

Binay cited the complaint of opposition lawmakers that under a reenacted budget, Malacanang can realign funds without Congressional approval. He said the so-called fertilizer fund scam and the alleged misuse of other publics funds occurred during this period when government was working on a reenacted budget.

“We are looking at a probable repeat of the 2004 presidential election, and we all know what happened,” he said, referring to allegations of fund diversion and cheating that were later revealed in recorded telephone conversation between Mrs. Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Mrs. Arroyo submitted to Congress a P1.54-trillion budget for 2010, representing an 8 percent increase from the current year’s budget of P1.426 trillion.

Earlier, Binay said Malacanang should be transparent enough and reveal how much has been earmarked as “presidential pork” in the 2010 budget. He said Mrs. Arroyo should set the example and cut her own “presidential pork barrel,” referring to Malacanang’s claim that it had slashed the pork barrel funds of legislators.

However, it was revealed that the Palace had in fact increased the allocation for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PADF) by as much as P700 million.

The opposition leader cited a study made by the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) that Mrs. Arroyo was allotted P835.97-billion in “pork barrel” funds in 2009.

Assuming that Mrs. Arroyo’s pork barrel for 2010 remains unchanged, Binay said cutting the amount by half would provide windfall savings of around P418 billion to the deficit-ridden administration.

“Malacanang doesn’t have to look beyond the Office of the President for savings. Even if we assume that Mrs. Arroyo will receive the same pork barrel funds for 2010, slashing it in half would easily give the administration almost P418 billion in savings,” he said.

Quoting the ABI study, Binay said the 2009 budget did not contain details on how Mrs. Arroyo’s pork barrel funds will be disbursed and for what purpose. Malacanang, he said, should provide Congress a detailed list of how she intends to disburse her pork barrel in 2010.

“When you have such an amount to be disbursed at Mrs. Arroyo’s discretion during the election period, we can expect a repeat of the misuse of funds reported during the presidential 2004 election,” he said.

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