By Charmaine A. Tadalan
HOUSE Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo on Friday assured there will be no zero budget for lawmakers on her watch.
“I was supposed to make a proper announcement pero nasabi ko na, meron nga akong listahan and halos lahat nga was opposing me. Pero ganun pa man, as a gesture of goodwill, hindi sila bibigyan ng zero,” Ms. Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview. (I was supposed to make a proper announcement, but I already mentioned it, I have a list, which includes most of those opposing me. But nevertheless, as a gesture of goodwill, they won’t be given zero.)
“That’s why I won’t give zero budget even to those congressmen (who) don’t like me at all,” she added.
District representatives critical of the administration were once threatened with budget cuts or zero funding for their constituents.
For his part, House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. said the Speaker had given orders to ensure funds are allocated for every district.
“Appropriations proposed by the executive for projects and programs in a congressional district represented by a non-majority coalition member will not be drastically cut or reduced to zero,” Mr. Andaya said. “On the contrary, if the funds are found to be lacking, there is always the possibility of an augmentation, yan po ang sabi ni Speaker (that’s what the Speaker said),” Mr. Andaya said.
He added: “Gusto ko rin po klaruhin, na wala naman talagang distrito sa kasalukuyan na absolutely zero budget, kasi merong mga national projects (si) President Duterte.”
(I would also like to clarify that there are really no districts now that have absolutely zero budget, because President Duterte has national projects [in the countryside].)