MANILA - Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno insisted Wednesday that Malacañang cannot augment funding for new projects but can only add funds to existing programs.
"The constitution is very clear that no law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriation. They allow augmentation of existing budget items in the budget. The President, Senate President and Speaker can augment any item in the budget. It has to be there already, out of savings from other appropriations," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Diokno cited several new items funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which he said is not in the 2011 budget.
He said that instead of coming up with a new program to stimulate the economy, Malacañang should have just asked for a supplemental budget from Congress.
The Palace earlier said DAP was created to boost government spending to address slow economic growth.
Diokno said if Malacañang was not keen on seeking a supplemental budget, then projects that need funding but have no current allocations should have been deferred to the next fiscal year.
Father Joaquin Bernas, a constitutional expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ateneo School of Law, said Congress may authorize the President to transfer savings from their departments to augment savings in the same department.
"So savings in the President's budget can be transferred to items in his budget not to other departments."