MANILA — Sen. Imee Marcos on Thursday lambasted the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for reducing the anti-graft court's budget for 2021 amid the ballooning number of cases against corrupt officials.
Marcos found unacceptable DBM's move to reduce over 30 percent or almost P603 million from Sandiganbayan's proposed budget of P1.56 billion.
"Dapat tulungan natin ang Sandiganbayan. Hindi naman ata tama 'yan. Lumolobo din 'yung caseload nila. Mabigat po yata," Marcos, whose family has faced trial at the court, told colleagues at the Senate during the finance committee's deliberations on the judiciary's budget.
(We must help Sandiganbayan. This is not right. Their caseload is ballooning. It's heavy.)
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang likewise said she was puzzled about the budget cut since the DBM did not cite a reason behind the slash.
"There was no reason given actually. They simply submitted the NEP (National Expenditure Program)," Cabotaje-Tang said.
The justice added that they had filed a motion for reconsideration before the DBM to restore some of the funds, but noted the agency historically doesn't respond to appeals.
"Based on experience, the DBM doesn't normally reply to MRs," Cabotaje-Tang said.
Chiding the budget department, Marcos said it seems like the "DBM is superior to all the courts."
The Sandiganbayan is a special court mandated to try criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and other offenses committed by public officers and employees.
The Marcoses are no stranger to the functions of the anti-graft court.
A Sandiganbayan division last March affirmed its 2019 dismissal of a civil case involving the forfeiture of P267 million of alleged ill-gotten wealth of the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Imee's father, and spouses Fe and Ignacio Gimenez.
The Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth throughout the late dictator's regime “is estimated between $5 billion to $10 billion, the bulk of it being deposited and hidden abroad,” according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government.