THE senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations has vehemently denied Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s claim that congressmen inserted pork barrel in next year’s national budget.
Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora, the main plenary sponsor of the national budget and a senior vice chairperson of the panel, said the allocated funds under House Bill (HB) No. 8169 or the national budget for various districts, including that of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s second district of Pampanga, originated from the figures submitted by the Department of Budget (DBM) during the time of former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
“You can’t say that it is congressional insertion because the realignments in the proposed budget were also recommended by district engineers of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways),” said Zamora.
“Hindi po nabuhusan ng proyekto [ang distrito ni Speaker Arroyo]. Wala pong gaanong kalaking increase. May allocation na po [ang districts under the proposed budget of the President],” said Zamora. She said it was not correct to say that Mrs. Arroyo’s district was a favored area, explaining other districts got bigger funding based on their needs.
“It’s unfair to single out the second district of Pampanga,” said Zamora. “There are other districts, too (with bigger allocations). I just can’t name the districts (offhand).”
Lacson said he traced the alleged huge insertions to Pampanga and to Camarines Sur.
Earlier, he alleged that a congressman would get an additional P1.5 billion while a congresswoman got an additional P1.6 billion in next year’s national budget.
According to Zamora, Arroyo’s district was given a funding of P1.4 billion in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) based on submitted budget by the DBM and the House version raised it by P500 million.
“It wasn’t increased by that much,” said Zamora. “Based on the (proposed) realignments submitted by the DPWH, it was around P500 million so it’s now P1.9 billion.”
“The increase was not necessarily done because the Speaker wanted it. The DPWH was the one that suggested which projects will be realigned,” said Zamora as she admitted that some lawmakers lobbied for additional funds before DBM submits the NEP to the House of Representatives.
“Many congresspersons have bigger allotments (for their districts). A lot of congressmen lobby at the Regional Development Council level,” she said. “Congressmen know what their districts need.”