MANILA—A lawmaker on Tuesday called for the immediate disbursement of P160 billion classified by the Department of Budget and Management as "For Later Release," saying withholding the funds is unconstitutional.
"We appeal to the President to order the DBM who has the wrong notion that the FLRs cannot be released without his approval," Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez told Teleradyo.
"They should release this already because September na and these projects will go a long way into giving employment to our people and finish the projects in our districts."
DBM officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie Canda had told lawmakers the disbursement of FLR funds would require the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, he said.
"There is no sanction in the Constitution that says it's still the President that will order this. Automatic na 'yan through all the districts and the departments to download immediately," Rodriguez said.
The lawmaker said the funds were appropriated for infrastructure projects in the General Appropriations Act of 2021.
"In my case in Cagayan de Oro, I still have about P400 million for later release. Wala pa rin. Naghihintay ang ating mga constituents (Still nothing. My constituents are waiting)," he said.
Asked if the withholding of funds is related to the incoming elections, he said, "Well, I can't speculate that it's because of... Because last year, ginawa ito (They did this). So, I don't know really the reason but whatever it is, it is unconstitutional. Because the power of the purse is with Congress and we have approved that."