Palace blinks on budget row

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2010 01:09 AM | Updated as of Oct 07 2010 09:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A 4-hour standoff between members of the majority coalition in the lower House over the 2011 budget has ended, with lawmakers getting higher allocations for their districts.

The move effectively scuttled the Aquino administration’s insistence on line-item budgeting.

The squabble between the legislators nearly threatened to derail the swift passage of the 2011 national budget.

After a meeting with Department of Budget (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad and other congressmen, Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“Of course, I’m happy now. We got what we wanted,” he said.

Garcia led members of the majority bloc, who are mostly from the old ruling administration party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD.   

Two other lawmakers, who asked not to be named, said the meeting resulted in the restoration of congressional insertions for projects on lump sum items.

The Palace wanted to end the practice of lawmakers making insertions in favor of a more transparent menu-based enumeration of projects.

This is the same old practice of congressmen being able to propose projects wherein their Priority Development Assistance funds (PDAF) are spent per district.

House Majority Leader Boyet Gonzales, meanwhile, said Abad earlier promised Malacañang that the projects will be funded by the lump sum appropriations and for congressmen to also be allowed to submit own proposals for projects.

The Visayas-Mindanao bloc of lawmakers were also assured that more money will be given to their constituencies.

Gonzales said congressmen’s proposals will be entertained during the period of amendments for the proposed budget bill.