DBM sitting on ‘For Later Release’ funds, legislator says

A HOUSE legislator called for the immediate disbursement of billions worth of funds classified as “For Later Release” (FLR), claiming that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is improperly holding on to the money and undermining the role of Congress in identifying spending items. 

Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez said in a statement Friday that the Executive branch is acting unconstitutionally. 

“These are line items in the 2021 budget law or General Appropriations Act, which the House and the Senate approved and which President Duterte signed. The President’s approval is not needed for their release because they are contained in a law,” Mr. Rodriguez said.   

He also said that withholding the funds would “render the exclusive power of Congress to appropriate funds useless,” adding that the President could have chosen to veto any line item in this year’s budget. 

“It cannot be overemphasized that our people are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and are barely making both ends meet. We need to give them jobs and income, and the best way to do that is to spend funds for infrastructure, social services, and other projects,” he said. 

Acting Budget Secretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda said during a Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing at the Senate Wednesday that FLR funds for this year total P140 billion, with P33 billion or 23.6% having been released. 

She also said that the disbursement of the FLR funds require the approval of the President.   

Senators urged government agencies, especially those with infrastructure projects, to ramp up spending to help the economy bounce back from the pandemic. — Russell Louis C. Ku