“Tonight, Congress just wrote the president a blank check that will be financed by the Filipino people.” – Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon denounced the passage of House Bill No. 4968 or the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) P2.6 trillion budget on third and final reading on Oct. 29, Wednesday, at the House of Representatives. President Aquino has certified the bill as urgent.
“We denounce in the strongest sense the House majority’s blatant railroading of the 2015 national budget, which contains midnight insertions also known as ‘errata sheets’ that only favor the Aquino administration and his cohorts,” Rison said.
The Makabayan bloc with 20 more congressmen voted no against the passage of GAA as it has inserted the “errata” submitted by the DBM only last Monday, Oct. 27 containing more than 200 pages.
In her explanation of vote, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said, “The DBM’s errata will not merely correct typographical errors but will amend GAA as approved on second reading. It will reduce the Pension and Gratuity Fund, and increase the budget of several agencies by more than P13 billion ($299 million).”
Ilagan explained that there are several reallocations within and across allotment classes in the “errata sheets.” For one, Ilagan said, is the transfer of the bulk of government funds from the Capital Outlay to Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses.
“That’s only one of the many, Mr. Speaker. And now we will vote for the passage of this budget on the third reading without further investigating the more than 200 pages of errata sheets from the DBM?”
“For this alone, Mr. Speaker, I vote no because this 2015 GAA contains more than 200 pages of amendments not properly introduced into this plenary and not subjected to the debate and interpellation – the collective scrutiny – of this Congress.”
Low budget for more SUCs
Ridon said more state universities and colleges (SUCs) might suffer from lower budget by the errata made by DBM. He said he was able to leaf through the more than 200 pages errata submitted by the DBM and expressed concern with the inclusion of several adjustments made for the SUCs.
For one, Ridon said, Partido State University will receive an additional P5 million ($111,701) to “cover requirements for the construction of Engineering Building.”
According to DBM, the additional amount was sourced from realignment under the Pension and Gratuity Fund. But the amounts specified for several line items were reduced for other SUCs, such as Bohol Island State University, Cebu Normal University, Cebu Technological University, among others.