Lacson Questions Palace’s Fund Sneak Try in 2009 Budget

If it is sincere in helping government workers make ends meet by increasing their salaries, Malacañang should do it properly instead of sneaking funds into the proposed national budget for 2009, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday. 

Lacson said one way the Palace can do this is to support his Senate bill that aims to rationalize the present pay scale of government employees and officials.

“If Malacañang really wants to ease the plight of government workers, it should follow the constitutional process. It should pass the proper measure into law, and then fund it, instead of sneaking in billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money into next year’s budget, which cannot be used anyway because the Constitution prohibits it,” Lacson said.

Also, Lacson said there is a whale of a difference between the Palace’s insertion of the funds into the 2009 budget, and his Senate Bill 42, which merely aims to rationalize the pay scale of government officials and employees.

“My bill aims to rationalize the pay scale of government officials and employees. Funding it will follow the constitutional provision. The President’s proposal was inserted into the General Appropriations Act for 2009, which cannot be used anyway,” he said.

Under Art. VII, Sec. 6 of the 1987 Constitution, “the salaries of the President and Vice-President shall be determined by law and shall not be decreased during their tenure. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the term of the incumbent during which such increase was approved.”

Under Art. VI, Sec. 10, “the salaries of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by law. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives approving such increase.”

But Lacson noted that in the case of the 2009 budget, the Budget Department tried to sneak in funds for the pay hikes of government officials – including the incumbent President, Vice President, and lawmakers.

He added his Senate bill will have no funding until the proper appropriation is made for it in the General Appropriations Act.

“In Malacañang’s case now, it is appropriating funds for a salary increase that cannot be used anyway. If that is the case, it will merely realign the unused funds. The question is, where will it realign these funds?” he said.

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