Budget errata feared to have a DAP-like mechanism

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2014 03:26 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2014 11:26 PM

MANILA - Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares has expressed concern that the budget errata the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will submit to Congress will be a way to institutionalize a mechanism similar to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Colmenares said they heard the DBM will submit an errata, information the department has not denied.

However, Colmenares said the errata should not be allowed since the budget deliberations are done.

He said he is concerned that the errata will not just delve into mere typographical errors, but will go into redefining terms like savings, realignment, and budgetary items.

He is concerned a redefinition of the budgetary items will put more lump sums at the disposal of the executive.

Under the Constitution, heads of agencies can only tap savings to augment existing budgetary items.

Colmenares said budgetary items should be line itemized, and not general definitions.

He is concerned that the redefinition of budgetary items may make general definitions acceptable as line items.

Colmenares said that should the administration insist on the errata, they will insist on a redeliberation, and if needed, pose a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court (SC).

Appropriations Committee vice chairperson Ben Evardone said he has not seen the reported errata.

But he said he does not see anything wrong with it since in previous budget deliberations, errata are inserted even after the vote on second reading.

A small group committee has been created to entertain possible personal and committee amendments until October 1.

Evardone said this has been the practice since entertaining amendments during the deliberations would have made the process long.

Appropriations Committee chairperson Isidro Ungab said in a text message, "The plenary has tasked a committee which would oversee any amendments or errata in the submitted budget. Rest assured that Congress will thoroughly and diligently review it and deal with this in accordance with law, rules and prevailing and recent jurisprudence of the SC on the same."

Budget Secretary Butch Abad, meanwhile, said in a text message, "That is for submission to the Appropriations Committee. These are errors, mostly typographical and in allocations that we ask for corrections. You should check with the approcom [appropriations committee] after it acts on the request for correction."

Asked about the possible lump sums, Abad said, "Lump sums? No, there are none. I am reviewing the request for correction of errors, reallocations and consistency of provisions to make sure that none of these allegations are in the request. But I am almost certain there are none but it is best to be sure."