Is President Rodrigo Duterte poised to veto some provisions of the General Appropriations Act again?

This is the question in the minds of many Filipinos after the revelation made by Senator Panfilo Lacson that several billions of pesos of late insertions was again made by some congressmen in the General Appropriations Act of 2020 worth about 83 billion pesos.

It can be recalled that President Duterte vetoed some P93 billion from the GAA2019 after Lacson’s exposè last year.

House Appropriations chairman and Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab meanwhile refused to confirm nor deny another round of presidential veto on the GAA.

Rep. Ungab however said that it is within the President’s mandate to veto any provisions of the annual budget that he thinks run contrary to the Constitution.

“We understand that the Veto power is an exclusive power vested by the Constitution to the President of the Philippines. He may or he may not exercise this power, depending of course on his judgment and legal basis whether or not the alterations made by congress in his executive budget are in line with the priorities of his administration. It is within the President’s discretion to either veto those provisions he finds not aligned with his priority programs directly or set conditions on the implementations of these programs or projects,” Rep. Ungab said.

“I have worked with President Duterte for a long time. He was the mayor when I was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee of Davao City Council. He is knowledgeable about the budget and can very well identify “pork allotments”, if any. He has been consistently reminding us to “prepare a budget for the poor because the rich can take care of themselves. Thus, I know that in the end, the President’s judgment will be based on whether a particular item in the budget will truly benefit our poor countrymen,” the Dabawenyo solon added.

Ungab said Malacañan has not yet scheduled the ceremonial signing into law of House Bill No. 4228 worth P4.1 trillion as they are still in the process of encoding and printing the documents.

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