MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Friday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to order the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release around PHP160 billion worth of For Later Release (FLR) funds.
In a statement, Rodriguez said that even though the funds were classified as ”for later release” in a spending law, it is against the Constitution to “impound” the appropriations.
He said this in response to the statement made by DBM officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie Canda that the disbursement of FLR funds needs the approval of the Office of the President.
“These are line items in the 2021 budget law or General Appropriations Act, which the House and the Senate approved and which President Duterte signed. The President’s approval is not needed for their release because they are contained in a law,” Rodriguez said.
He argued that impounding the funds would mean undermining the congressional power of the purse.
He said that while the President has veto power over any line item in the budget, he “opted not to veto” the PHP160-billion appropriations and instead categorized them as “for later release”.
“That would render the exclusive power of Congress to appropriate public funds useless. What is the use of enacting appropriations if Malacañang is given the power of life and death over them?” Rodriguez said.
He highlighted those FLR disbursements at this time would create jobs and income for people in both urban and rural areas, especially amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“It cannot be overemphasized that our people are suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic and are barely making both ends meet. We need to give them jobs and income, and the best way to do that is to spend funds for infrastructure, social services, and other projects. The government should be the biggest creator of livelihood opportunities,” he said. (PNA)