FOLLOWING the allegation in the House of Representatives of a P55-billion hidden pork barrel in the 2019 proposed budget, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson yesterday vowed to fight for its deletion in the Senate’s deliberation on next year’s general appropriations.
Lacson said that members of the Lower Chamber now allied with House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made the job of his staff easy in scrutinizing the proposed budget for hidden pork.
“Natutukoy, pero napakahirap (pork). Pero ngayon dahil sa nangyari sa Kamara medyo sa isang banda nagpapasalamat kami. Tuwa nga ng staff ko kasi medyo napadali ang trabaho,” Lacson said.
But after the revelation of the insertions of congressmen identified with former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Lacson warned that the P55 billion pork may just be transferred or re-aligned for the benefit of the other members of Congress.
“Kung nagkasundo sila kahapon at nabago ang, na-realign ang P55 billion na yan, kung kani-kanino man, iyan ang hahanapin natin ngayon. Pero pork pa rin yan. From pork to pork eh,” Lacson stressed.
“Nagawa namin ito noong 2016. May P8.3 billion na na-identify. Actually nasuportahan ng kasamahan ko sa Senado ilagay ito sa free tuition kaya wala pa ang batas sa free tuition nagkaroon ng pondo na P8 billion,” he added.
He further explained that usually, the proposed budget is derived from the project recommendations of the local government units up to the national government that would create the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
“Ang nangyayari, galing sa taas, pababa parang dinidikta na kung anong pangangailangan ng mga LGU. Eh ang LGU part and parcel talaga ng national government. At ang proyekto naman nasa local, sa mga local areas. Ang nangyari ngayon halos wala nang konsultasyon at hindi na alam kung ano ang needs and priorities ng local areas,” Lacson explained.
He also mentioned the study of both the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) that 20 percent of the annual Philippine budget goes to corruption. The senator insisted that most of the corruption is in the form of pork barrel.
Meanwhile, opposition Senator Franklin Drilon also vowed to oppose the passage of the budget for 2019 after hearing the news about the insertions.
“I will oppose the passage of the budget and filibuster, if needed, if these pork barrel allocations/insertions remain,” Drilon said.