Lacson accused of P3.7T holding budget hostage

March 11, 2019
Panfilo Lacson

AN opposition House leader yesterday accused Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson of holding hostage the 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget due to his bad blood with Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press conference, House Deputy Minority Leader and COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo, a member of the bicameral conference committee on the national budget, said Lacson’s alleged personal vendetta against Arroyo has been the reason behind the seeming disinformation in the national budget.

“The way I look at it in my own assessment, Senator Ping Lacson is holding the budget hostage because of his personal vendetta to our Speaker. He has not said anything good about the Speaker from the very start of her leadership as speaker and in fact even before the change of leadership in the House,” Bravo told reporters after Lacson warned that Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III would not sign the enrolled bill on the national budget because of the alleged amendments made by the House of Representatives after the budget measure was ratified by Congress.

“I don’t have personal grudge or animosity with Senator Ping Lacson, but in my own analysis, I think the agenda here is clear, you don’t want the Speaker to be successful and her leadership as the Speaker,” said Bravo.

In the latter part of Arroyo’s presidency in 2010, Lacson left the Philippines after the charges against him in the murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito were revived.

Lacson resurfaced in March 2011 under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III after leaving the Philippines for over 14 months to evade arrest when he was tagged as the alleged mastermind in the Dacer-Corbito murder case.

Bravo joined Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., who chairs the House committee on appropriations, in denying illegal and unconstitutional amendments in the national budget like the alleged unlawful allocation of Arroyo to his allies of billions of pesos in infrastructure funds.

“He (Lacson) don’t want the Speaker to be successful and the leadership of Speaker,” said Bravo, adding that the House of Representatives itemization of its P4.5 billion budget out of the total P15-billion Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) after the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report was agreed during the bicameral meeting.

Andaya said the House of Representatives only itemized lump-sum funds, contrary to the claim of Sotto that it allegedly realigned some P79 billion under the ratified 2019 national budget as reported to him by the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO).