Senators back Duterte veto of P93-billion infra funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2019 09:43 AM | Updated as of Apr 16 2019 08:41 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - At least 2 senators on Tuesday expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to veto P95.3 billion in infrastructure projects from the 2019 national budget.

The vetoed items include P75 billion in alleged "insertions" by congressmen, which earlier caused an impasse in the approval of the P3.7-trillion national budget, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday. 

"If there is one act of PRRD (Duterte) that is worthy of admiration, this veto message is on top of my list. With his guts, glory comes to the Filipino taxpayers," Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Twitter. 

Duterte's move, he said, results in savings of P19.06 billion in "pork commission", which is equal to 20 percent of the vetoed P95 billion funds. 

Sotto, in signing the proposed budget in March, said he had "strong reservations" about the alleged realignment of a P75-billion chunk of the proposal.

"The assurance given by Senate President Sotto, in this case, was qualified. The Senate President only attested to the approval of that portion of the bill not affected by the realignments," noted Sen. Franklin Drilon. 

"Thus, the President's line item veto is based on legal and constitutional grounds, and not because the President sided with the Senate," he said. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Villanueva was dismayed that the President vetoed a special provision that will give the labor department the sole authority to issue special work permits.

"While the veto is a temporary setback on our efforts to put an end to the influx of illegal foreign workers here, our resolve to reform the process remains unshaken. We shall continue to push for an overhaul in the system by filing appropriate bills, such as amendments to the Bureau of Immigration's charter," Villanueva said in a statement.

House Majority Leader Rep. Fredenil Castro, meanwhile, said the lower chamber of Congress respects the President's veto. 

"We will abide with the President’s decision and respect the thorough study made by his team after all factors were considered," he said in a statement. 

Prior to the signing of the budget, the government had operated on a reenacted 2018 budget since January.