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Palace defends legality of 2015 budget

Camille Diola - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A Malacañang official on Wednesday defended the P2.606-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2015 amid a petition questioning its legality.

In a statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the crafting of the 2015 national budget is above board and is in line with the Constitution and other law.

"Lahat naman po ay ginawa para tiyakin na tumatalima tayo sa Konstitusyn at sa batas, at nasa proseso na rin po ng hudikatura ito," Coloma said in a phone interview with reporters.

He added that the Aquino administration remains committed to pursuing reforms to improve the plight of the people.

The remarks came after former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco filed a petition before the Supreme Court challening the basis of next year's budget.

Syjuco claimed that the General Appropriations Act allows for lump sum allocations, which many identify as forms of "pork barrel" earlier struck down by the high court.

President Benigno Aquino III signed the budgetary law on Tuesday, vowing there are no "pork" allocations, which he called magnets for corruption.

Aquino, however, made no mention of funds similar to those under the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, or DAP, which the Supreme Court ruled against.

In the same event, the president also signed the 2014 supplemental budget of more than P10 billion for reconstruction of areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.

Of the amount, P7.99 billion has been allocated for the construction of permanent housing for the disaster victims in the Visayas.

A MALACA AQUINO AUGUSTO SYJUCO COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY HERMINIO COLOMA JR. DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT ILOILO REP PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA SUPREME COURT
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