Escudero: Congress has the power to amend all proposed measures including the budget

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THE discretion to amend or proposed changes to any measure, including the budget, is part of the prerogative and powers of the congress and failure to do so is tantamount to neglect a lawmaker said on Friday.

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This was Senate finance committee chair Francis Escudero’s reply to those questioning the decision of some members of the senate to realign their 2014 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) allocation for this year to their chosen agencies even after the Supreme Court declared “pork” as unconstitutional.

“You cannot remove discretion because it is the prerogative and power of congress, otherwise congress will just accept and pass whatever measure the executive will propose,” Escudero explained.

As for the P200 million pork allocation of senator for 2015, Escudero said that all members of the senate have agreed to respect the decision of each senator on where they want to put their PDAF and each senator will be responsible in defending and justifying their choice.

The said move even lowered the 2014 budget from the original amount of P2.268 to P2.264 after congress slashed a total of P3.2 billion, the amount of the lump sum allocation of 15 senators and the Office of the Vice President under the PDAF they gave up.

Five senators realigned it to calamity funds while the four senators, including Senator Jinggoy Estrada, divided it their chosen agencies.

The move of the senate was questioned by some members of the House of Representatives saying the realignment of PDAF has been disallowed by house leaders.

“There is nothing irregular illegal or unconstitutional with respect to the budget that we approved,” said Escudero adding that he is taking full responsibility for all the amendments introduced by the senate finance committee in the budget.

Members of the House of the Representatives are complaining about the decision made by the upper chamber on PDAF despite of the fact that they participated on its passage.

“The senate approved it (budget), the bicam approved it, it was carried by both houses of congress. So you cannot put all the blame in one senator if in case there is something wroing with the budget,” he added. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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