Diokno rejects bid to ‘pressure’ Duterte into budget veto

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Benjamin E. Diokno

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said President Rodrigo R. Duterte should not be “pressured” into drafting a veto message for the budget, amid threats by some legislators to question the 2019 spending program before the Supreme Court.

“Legislators should not pressure the President on how he will exercise his constitutional duty,” Mr. Diokno told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Sunday.

“Congress has done its constitutional duty. DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and the executive department will provide the President the facts and his options,” he added.

Key legislators from both Houses of Congress expressed their intent to challenge the budget in the Supreme Court to contest alleged “pork” insertions.

The P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Bill of 2019 was passed on Friday by the Bicameral Conference Committee and was ratified on the same night.

Mr. Diokno rejected allegations that he is working with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles to draft a veto message that will result in the restoration of the P75-billion alleged “insertion” in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“We are awaiting the enrolled copy of the budget bill. The President cannot veto what is not provided for in the bill,” he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. of the 1st district of Camarines Sur on Sunday alleged that there have been efforts to restore the P75-billion budget, which the House and Senate have since realigned.

He said if the restoration is made “I will join Sen. (Panfilo M.) Lacson and Sen. (Franklin M.) Drilon in questioning the veto message before the Supreme Court,” he said.

Senators Lacson and Drilon were among the five who voted against the ratification of the budget bill. The others were Senators Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, and Francis N. Pangilinan. — Charmaine A. Tadalan