The insistence of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Azcuna that the Congress cannot increase the appropriations made by the President in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) converts the Congress into a rubberstamp of the President in the enactment of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Under the Constitution, the President proposes in the NEP, which he submits to the Congress, the annual budget for the operation of the government.
It is only a proposal which is subject to modification and realignment by the Congress, provided the total amount (ceiling) of the NEP is not exceeded.
Consequently, the President proposes while the Congress disposes.
Otherwise, if the Congress cannot amend, modify, delete, realign, reduce, increase, and reallocate items of expenditure in the NEP as long as the ceiling is not breached, why in the first place did the Constitution vest in the Congress the power of the purse?
Definitely, the NEP is not cast in stone.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN