NIELSEN TO LAWMAKERS: ‘No legislation, no reimbursement’

Posted on Jan 14 2000

The Department of Finance will not process pending requests for payment left by former members of the House of Representatives until a legislation is passed accepting these questionable expenditures.

Finance Sec. Lucy DLG. Nielsen said the only solution to the complaints brought by lawmakers in the past is if the present Legislature ratifies these expenditures.

“Pass legislation. We will be waiting for that,” she told in a brief interview after meeting with members of the new House leadership yesterday. She refused to answer when asked for details.

The House, during its sine die session last week, failed to pass a Senate measure which would have ratified reimbursements by lawmakers being held up by DOF as valid expenditures that can be shouldered by the government.

It would have also sought a clear definition of “public purpose” to set the scope of the constitutional provision pertaining to which expenditures are part of government expense.

The bill, offered by Senate Floor Leader Pete P. Reyes, was an attempt to bridge differences with the administration over the intention of the “public purpose” law that was passed last year.

It was not known how much money pending with DOF is involved, although former Rep. Melvin O. Faisao had questioned why the department did not want to pay him some $294 representing tent rentals for novenas.

Former Speaker Diego T. Benavente has raised the possibility of bringing the issue to court since it is unlikely that present members of the Legislature will approve expenditures incurred by past lawmakers.

The Legislature has been at odds with Ms. Nielsen over what lawmakers claim as tight watch on their expenditures, such as tent rentals for funerals and novenas which they believe are within the parameters of “public purpose.”

While Public Law 11-84 was enacted last year to bridge differences by defining its scope, disputes have escalated in recent months prompting some lawmakers to call for Ms. Nielsen’s resignation. (Benhur C. Saladores)

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