Congress mandated to scrutinize ‘waste’ in budget: Palace

MANILA It is the job of Congress to scrutinize alleged irregularities in the government's national budget, MalacaAang said on Friday.

The executive branch's obligation is only to prepare the budget for Congress' approval, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing in MalacaAang, when asked by reporters to react to Senator Panfilo Lacson's statement that PHP583.5 billion in the 2017 national budget was wasted due to discontinued or shelved projects under investigation.

"It's the job of Congress to scrutinize the budget. And so, if there is any irregularity on that, they have to correct it. That's their job. Ours is just to prepare a budget for their approval," Panelo said.

He said while President Rodrigo Duterte trusts his appointees, he will make government officials accountable if anomalies occur.

"Palaging style naman ni Presidente, bahala kayo diyan, kung may bulilyaso, you will be accountable to me. Ang alam ko, ang sabi sa akin ni(Budget) Secretary (Benjamin) Diokno noon, marami daw, may mga budget ang line agencies pero they are underspending, kaya nga sinasabi nila, gamitin ninyo, hindi ninyo ginagamit eh (It's always the President's style to let his men work. But if a problem arises, they will be made accountable. From what I know, Budget Secretary Diokno told me before that a lot of line agencies are underspending. That is why they are being told to use their budget)," Panelo said.

He added that it is the duty of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to recommend and handle the filing of charges on alleged irregularities in budget utilization.

"The projects were stopped, because there is a legal issue involved. Baka may nagfile, like iyong losing bidder baka nagfile, so inistop, kaya siguro ganoon. But it doesn't mean na it was wasted. Nahinto lang (Maybe someone filed a case, like a losing bidder. That is probably why these projects were stopped. But it doesn't mean that it was wasted. These projects were just suspended)," Panelo said.

Lacson said COA's report on government projects showed wasteful spending in taxpayers' money. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency