Former Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. photo from the INQUIRER archive

MANILA, Philippines – Similar to the position of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former Senator Ping Lacson said the decision of the bicameral conference committee to add an increase of P450 billion to the unscheduled appropriations of the 2024 budget it is unconstitutional.

Citing Article VI, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution, Lacson explained that Congress cannot increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government as specified in the budget.

“Senator Koko is right that the legislature cannot increase the National Expenditure Program (NEP). Items can be reduced or realigned from one agency to another, but the Constitution prohibits increasing the President's so-called budget,” Lacson said in a text message to reporters.

(Senator Koko is right that the legislature cannot increase the NEP. Items can be reduced or realigned from one agency to another, but the Constitution prohibits increasing the President's so-called budget.)

READ: Pimentel discovers P450-B increase in 2024 unscheduled funds

Pimentel previously disclosed that from Malacanang's initial proposal of P281.9 billion, the unscheduled allocation in the 2024 general appropriations bill was increased to P731.4 billion.

With this supposed increase, Pimentel said the national fund for next year would operate with an allocation of P6 trillion.

Lacson, on the other hand, said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should veto the P450 billion increase for next year’s unscheduled funds.

READ: Senate ratifies P5,768T national budget for 2024

“It should just be a line item veto [Pangulong Marcos] the unconstitutional provisions because [kapag] appropriations and fiscal measures [ay] the Constitution allows for item vetoes,” he said.

([President Marcos] should line-item veto unconstitutional provisions because line-item vetoes for appropriations and tax measures [are] permitted by the Constitution.)


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