Manila, Philippines — Minority lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to nullify the P449.5 billion in unprogrammed allocation in the national budget, saying the amount was way above the P289.1 billion originally proposed, making it unconstitutional.
In a 27-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and co-petitioners Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman argued that increasing the original amount of unprogrammed funds is prohibited under Section 25.1, Article 6 of the Constitution.
Malacañang said it is ready to “answer accordingly if required by the Supreme Court.
Based on the Constitution, Congress cannot go beyond the appropriations sought by the chief executive in the National Expenditure Program.
“It is indubitable that the excess of P449.5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations is constitutionally infirm. It is an expenditure outlay inside the Constitution. It is akin to an outlaw which must be slain on sight,” the petition read.
“This unconstitutional excess outlay was appropriated with grave abuse of discretion,” it added.
The petitioners noted that from the originally requested P281.9 billion of unprogrammed funds, the amount ballooned to nearly P731.5 billion in the 2024 budget. The excess, they said, was inserted by the bicameral conference committee “without the prior knowledge or consent of the greater membership of the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
“The President’s utter failure to veto the excess items aggravated the constitutional defect. Consequently, this constitutional challenge before the honorable Supreme Court is to cleanse the GAA of a fatal defect and give guidance to the Congress and the President in future budget considerations,” they added.
President Marcos vetoed only two provisions in the P5.768–trillion national budget – the revolving fund of the Department of Justice and the implementation of the Career Executive Service Development Program.
Petitioners also argued that “unprogrammed appropriations are used as a sanctuary for pet and partisan projects, mixed with substantial allocations and a graveyard for replaced or disfavored projects originally under the programmed appropriations.” — Alexis Romero