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Senate starts plenary debates for 2015 nat’l budget


The Senate on Tuesday started plenary deliberations on the 2015 P2.6-trillion national budget even as finance committee chairman Sen. Francis Escudero vowed to make “substantial improvements” in the House-approved budget bill.

“If you’re asking me if the amendments we’re going to introduce are cosmetic, the answer is no,” Escudero said. “What we’ll do is reduce overhead, increase funding for frontline services, put money on programs which have been overlooked.”

Escudero said the possible realignments would not be similar to the “pork barrel” of lawmakers.

“None of this will be pork in whatever name or form. There will be no earmarks sporting new titles,” he said.

Escudero said the Senate revisions would redound to the greater good, a better budget and be compliant with the Supreme Court rulings on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“Remember this is a post-DAP, post-PDAF budget so the Palace should welcome efforts to validate if the provisions indeed follow the jurisprudence laid down by the High Court,” he said.

Under the Senate version, Escudero said the special provisions under the special purpose funds, which allow savings from the said funds to be made available to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, have been deleted. Constitutional offices are also covered by the prohibition.

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