PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte exercised his veto power over parts of the P4.5 trillion 2021 Budget, his spokesman said Tuesday, noting that the rejected items mainly involve programs that sought to directly appropriate funds generated by government agencies.

The President’s Spokesman Herminio L. Roque gave no further details in his televised briefing from Baguio City, the day after Mr. Duterte signed the budget.

“Some of the vetoed items included provisions related to the direct income of government agencies,” he said in Filipino.

Mr. Roque said as a general rule, agencies are required to surrender their income to the National Treasury, with any other use of the funds they generate requiring authorization “by a separate substantive law.”

The President’s formal veto message to Congress had not been officially released at deadline time. According to an unofficial copy of the message obtained by BusinessWorld, the rejected provisions involve income generated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) from Alien Employment Permits as well as a separate income stream from a DoLE agency, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The unofficial copy of the veto message also rejected plans to tap income generated by the Philippine Racing Commission, the confidential fund of the Optical Media Board (OMB), and “excess dividends” generated by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Other veto items cover “inappropriate” provisions involving the Departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Trade and Industry (DTI), Transportation, and Justice, according to the document obtained by BusinessWorld.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Tuesday, the President’s veto message urged Congress to observe the law when appropriating funds for “procurement-related provisions, grant of allowances and benefits, use of Quick Response Fund (QRF), identification of program beneficiaries, construction of evacuation centers, implementation of service contracting, funding of foreign-assisted projects, among others.”

“As part of his Constitutional mandate that all laws are fair in implementation, the Chief Executive reviewed the budget thoroughly and subjected to veto some provisions against the Constitution,” Mr. Roque said in the briefing.

He also noted that spending should be limited to items identified by the government in the National Expenditure Program (NEP), a document that outlines the Executive branch’s spending priorities before the budget is legislated.

The 2021 NEP will be a cash-based budgeting system, ensuring that all agencies spend what is allocated to them.

Mr. Duterte said Monday that the budget will be spent efficiently, directed at programs that address the “debilitating effects” of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

The 2021 budget is about 10% larger than this year’s P4.1 trillion spending plan. — Gillian M. Cortez