by Rene Pamintuan
Perhaps it all boils down to the issue of functionality of the various departments of our Philippine government. If the president all on his whims and caprices, designs and wills, can declare anything and everything in the budget as “savings” and use these for whatever he wants, WHO NEEDS THE LEGISLATURE?
Congress is a mass of politicians whose getting elected, maintained and now even pampered by the president, is a big COST ISSUE for the Philippines. All these funds being expended to keep these people salaried, funded, and maintained with huge pork allowances too, if they were not there, could be “savings” and used for more people-oriented development works. After all, only the President can and do declare which are really more needed, more than the collective wisdom of the whole People’s Elected Congressmen and Senators.
That these worms have allowed the president to use their own functions by sheer stupidity and greed, through the smart allocation of funds coursed through them, and by which they too have been drowned out in a pool of illegitimate expenditures many of them now facing court trials for, is a testament to the collective stupidity of our Congress. No one complained at all those times about the funds that were trickling in to their pockets and offices, notwithstanding these were not approved by Congress in their legislative law making for the GAA. All they need to do is check that law, and they would know if these were funded by them. If not, then the executive is clearly producing funds from nowhere that were not legislated and clearly something was going wrong. But, the excess funds coming their ways was just too big a temptation, who cares? why would they even check.
Here then are we in this precarious situation: The executive refuses to accept the law-making edicts of the SC decisions and continue to fight it, the legislature combined has allowed the “rape” of their legislative functions of budget allocations without a whimper and in fact even supporting it, and the judiciary finally finding its lost voice and saying out right what needed said for a long time. But then, what happens next?
We have never had a president willing to fight Supreme Court the way this president has shown. Congress well what do you know, has always been a subservient one when it comes to funds coming their ways, and a SC that has finally shown it can be independent too despite being the appointees of the current president. Will we be facing a constitutional crisis?
The reason of expediency for completing projects on time, while a good one, is also reflective of the president’s lack of management capabilities and sensitivities. He says he is taking “savings” from departments unable to finish their projects on time, and use these for something else that needed funding. If those new projects were not funded, or funded fully, it means the Legislature has not seen fit to do so. If those departments could not finish their projects on time, let us remind the president that those are under HIS department in the Executive. As a manager it is his role and duty to make these projects happen and be finished on time given and funds allocated for same. If not, he is the manager that will answer to the people for it. He could fire the lower managers, or put more focus on the projects. There are many ways a manager in government can manage, but to accept that these all can not be finished and that he can therefore declare these funds as SAVINGS even before the end of the year, and take these and expend them to something else, is taking prerogative beyond the legislature’s reach. It is his department, and if he cant make them work on time and the way these are programmed someone has to be replaced and fired, or resigned. It can even he, if he feels he cant make it happen.
So many reasons given for using funds that are not appropriated, but from the whole start he as executive could have fought nail and tooth with the legislature for projects he feels should have been funded from the start. Taking the funds from other allocations therefore is not only counterproductive, it also smacks of bad management.