Rep. Quimbo questions non-release of P192-B FLR funds

© dzBB Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo

A lawmaker on Thursday disclosed that the amount of funds “For Later Release” (FLR) is at P192 billion, prompting another lawmaker to question the process required for the release.

During the resumption of the plenary deliberation on House Bill 10153 or the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo inquired about the remaining unreleased FLR.

Quirino Representative Junie Cua, who sponsored the proposed budget of the Department of Budget and Management, said as of August 31, the amount that needs to be released is P192 billion.

Quimbo asked Cua which agency decides on the release of FLR funds as well as the conditions that must be met for the release.

In response, Cua said it is the Office of the President that decides when the FLR will be released.

“I s uppose the OP has a process of determining why it should be released already. Implementability, availability of cash…  these are the basic criteria for deciding to release it,” Cua said.

‘Unconstitutional’

During the course of the interpellation, Quimbo stressed her position that the non-release of the funds is unconstitutional, a point earlier emphasized by House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez.

“I stand by my position na tila unconstitutional po ito. Dahil ang power of the purse naman rest with Congress… na kung anong ibig sabihin kung ano po ‘yung budget document na lumabas po dito, at wala naman po doon distinction what is for late release or not,” Quimbo said.

“Sa ngayon po nagkakaroon ng gray area because mayroong for late release na nangyayari after Congress and the Senate approved the budget. Sa aking palagay, hindi po ito constitutional,” she pointed out.

Cua admitted that the practice seemed to “diminish” the power of the Congress.

“I feel also that this kind of practice somehow diminishes the power of Congress. But I also would like to remind our colleagues that If I were in the shoes of the President, and cash is a problem for me, I may have to do something like this,” Cua said.

“Because when Congress approves, everybody expects immediate release and for the entire budget process, we never expected such substantial increase in the budget, medyo mahirap din ‘yun,” he added.

Cua further said this process must be looked into, meaning Congress leaders, as well as those in the Executive department, must talk about this.

“Based on my experience this never happened because mayroon kaming preliminary discussion between Executive and Legislative. Mayroong kasunduan na ganoon, pag nagdagdag kami, alam naming kakayanin. Eh ito wala eh. Basta dagdag tayo, walang coordination, mahihirapan nga naman,” Cua said.

In July, some senators questioned the non-release of the FLR, supposedly for infrastructure and social amelioration programs.

Items marked FLR can only be released upon approval of the President, the Budget Secretary, or an official acting on the authority of the President. —KBK, GMA News

This article Rep. Quimbo questions non-release of P192-B FLR funds was originally published in GMA News Online.

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