Arroyo won’t give zero budget to opposition solons

House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Friday she will not give zero budget to lawmakers who are critical of the administration.

“Bibigyan lahat ng budget as gesture of goodwill. Meron nga akong listahan and everyone was opposing me, pero ganun pa man as a gesture of goodwill, hindi sila bibigyan ng zero,” Arroyo said in an ambush interview at the turnover of dredger and backhoe to the local government of Calumpit, Bulacan.

“I won’t give zero budget even to those congressmen [who] don’t like me at all,” she added.

This is contrary to the stance of Arroyo’s ousted predecessor, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, who threatened to slash or completely remove the budgets of several opposition congressmen.

House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. assured that all congressional districts will receive allocations for next year regardless of the political alignment or stand of their representatives.

“Lahat ng distrito may pondo. Yan ang klarong utos ni Speaker GMA. 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,” Andaya told reporters in a separate interview.

He said constituents of opposition congressmen pay taxes so they are entitled “to enjoy the fruits of their payments,” stressing that no district has zero budget allocation at present.

“Sabi nga, ‘Taxes are paid by the people in cash but are rebated to them in kind, in the form of services and projects, and the budget is the catalogue of these rebates.’ So taxation without appropriation is wrong,” Andaya said.

He said there is also a possibility of an augmentation if funds are found to be lacking.

Andaya also noted that House appropriations committee chairman Karlo Nograles would make sure that Arroyo’s directive will be followed as the lower chamber started its panel deliberations of the 2019 national budget.

“Bottomline is that the people should not be penalized for the stand taken by their representatives,” he said. PNA