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Budget insertion by itself ‘not a crime’–Andaya

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But issue can be brought to ethics panel, he says

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:15:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines — An insertion in the national budget, by itself, is “not a crime,” since it is within the power of the legislature to amend the budget proposal of the executive department, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said Tuesday.

But if lawmakers suspect irregularities in the insertion, at the very least, they should pursue the matter before the committee on ethics, the budget chief said.

Andaya issued the statement, a day after Senator Panfilo Lacson accused Senate President Manny Villar, in a privilege speech, of allegedly being responsible for the double entry of P200 million for the C-5 road extension project.

“Abogado din ho ako. Pero sa unang tingin, kung anong krimen na nangyari, wala ho e. Walang krimen agad yan [I am a lawyer too. At first glance, if you ask if a crime was committed, there’s none. There is no immediate crime],” Andaya told radio station dzXL.

“Sa loob mismo ng Senado, kung sa pakiwari nila e nagkaroon ng lokohan sa loob, at the very least, dun sa ethics committee pwede sila magsampa ng reklamo sa kapwa senador nila, para madisiplina nila ang kasamahan nila [Within the Senate, if they feel that they were duped,
they can file a complaint before the ethics committee against their fellow senators, so that they can discipline their colleagues],” he added.

Andaya said insertions in the budget amounted to “amendments” of the legislature in the proposed budget of the executive department.

“Yung paglagay ng insertion sa budget, karapatan ho talaga ng Kamara at ng Senado. Iyan ay hindi ho pwedeng tanggalin. Pati ho sa Konstitusyon, yan ang magiging konklusyon. [Insertions in the budget are the right of the House and the Senate. That cannot be taken away from them. Even in the Constitution, that will be the conclusion],” he said.

Andaya reiterated that only P200 million was released for the C-5 road extension in the 2008 budget.

Lacson alleged that the P200 million was appropriated twice for the same road project, with the second entry using a different name.

Andaya also reiterated the executive department’s commitment to cooperate in any legislative inquiry into the budget controversy.

Lacson denied that his expose was politically motivated despite having made it after Villar announced his intention to run for president in 2010. Lacson himself has been reported to be planning to run for the presidency a second time after losing to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-16T08:06:21+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 16 Sep 2008 08:06:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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