Marcos vetoes budget items for tourism campaign, 2 others

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has vetoed three items in the 2023 national budget over issues concerning the use of funds, including a proposal to alter the Philippines’ tourism promotion campaign.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Office of the Press Secretary said Mr. Marcos vetoed provisions on the use of the National Labor Relations Commission’s (NLRC) income, the establishment of a revolving fund for the Department of Education (DepEd) TV, as well as the proposed change to the tourism campaign slogan.

Citing Presidential Decree 1445, or Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, Mr. Marcos said the NLRC is limited in the use of its income to depositing the funds with the National Treasury.

“Further, the funding requirements for the operations of the NLRC are already fully provided under its budget under this Act,” he was quoted saying in his veto message addressed to the House of Representatives.

Mr. Marcos said no law authorizes the DepEd TV revolving fund. DepEd TV is the agency’s platform for multimedia classes and serves as an information source for students on the coronavirus.

Under the 2023 General Appropriations Act, revolving funds may only be established for “business-type-activities,” rendering the DepEd’s fund plan for the platform ineligible.

The President also ruled out the change of tourism slogan, saying in his veto message, “in no case shall the appropriations be utilized to change the tourism campaign slogan.”

The veto on the use of appropriations covers the Department of Tourism’s Branding Campaign Program.

In his veto message, Mr. Marcos said the budget provision limits the exercise of the Executive branch’s functions in implementing the Tourism Act of 2009, or Republic Act No. 9593.

Mr. Marcos on Dec. 16 signed the P5.268-trillion national budget for next year, the biggest budget to date.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst, said the vetoes showed the government’s intention to streamline spending due to limited fiscal space.

“However, while it has done so in these areas, the expansion of confidential and intelligence funds in other agencies remains as this budget’s original sin,” he said via chat.

“Government cannot streamline budgetary appropriations while maintaining other line items which may be unnecessary at this time.”

In the final version of the 2023 national budget, legislators restored the confidential and intelligence funds of DepEd which were earlier reduced to P30 million from P150 million.

Zyza Nadine M. Suzara, executive director of policy think tank the Institute for Leadership Education and Development, said the vetoes were reasonable.

The Department of Budget and Management normally reviews provisions of the budget bill against what is authorized by law to avoid unnecessary spending, she said in a Viber message.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III said via Viber: “I hope that the prioritization of the education sector as mandated by the constitution is really reflected in the budget law after the veto… Also, we still have to monitor how the budget is actually implemented.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez