MANILA – Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago attacked the constitutionality of the proposed budget for 2015 saying that it contains two “dangerous minefields.”
During her televised privilege speech, Santiago noted that the 2015 budget is exposed to corruption because of the government’s new definition when it comes to savings and the retention of pork barrel that may be spent as deemed fit by the legislators.
“In other words, the 2015 budget which contains two dangerous minefields leading to corruption, is not what people expect. It is what administration candidates expect,” she said. “This is what we call hyper-presidentialism. The reach of the executive branch of our government is too much.”
Santiago questioned the new definition of “savings” saying that it’s too vague. She cited that under Section 68 of the proposed budget, savings may be used for whatever “justifiable reasons.”
“The redefinition of savings demolishes and overturns not only the constitutional and legislated meaning of savings; it goes against the generally accepted meaning of the word itself. We might be the only country in this world which declares savings at any time,” said Santiago.
She added, “Since the private sector has a different meaning of savings, books on accounting, auditing, and financial management will have to be changed,” she added. “This shows how powerful the Malacañang is given that they can change the vocabulary as they wish.”
The senator is encouraging her colleagues to discard the new definition of savings and instead retain the old one.
She further said that the Senate should not approve the budget until the redefinitions are changed.
Meanwhile, Santiago said that the omission of the term “Priority Development Assistance Fund” (PDAF) was just “illusory” given that P25.4 billion was already allocated to five agencies with legislators who are handling the projects.
She believes that the same thing will happen in next year’s 2015 budget.
“Let me raise a BIG question about the 2015 budget. Last summer, why were representatives asked to submit lists of projects they endorsed for their districts? I understand that the form distributed did not bear any letterhead,” the senator said.
At least P37.3 billion worth of projects are allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Commission on Higher Education in the 2015 budget.