TO set the record straight on the issue of “pork” in the 2019 national budget, House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rolando Andaya Jr. issued the following statement:
Senators are desperately looking for ghosts in the 2019 General Appropriations Act. The problem, they seem to find ghosts everywhere except at their own house.
If post-bicam itemization of lump-sum budget by the House of Representatives is unconstitutional or irregular, what about post-bicam realignment by the Senate of P77 billion in the national budget?
It is now the turn of the senators to explain to the public the P77-billion realignment made by the Senate after both chambers ratified the 2019 GAA. The realignment is also nowhere to be found in the bicameral conference committee report.
Worse, unlike in the House of Representatives, there are no proponents for the realignment. Meaning, the funds are parked somewhere in the national budget. This is clearly parked pork.
The senators may try to justify the realignment by describing them again as institutional amendments. But how can they describe the Senate’s P25-billion realignment that was parked in the DPWH budget? Still institutional amendments?
I wish to make it clear. Of the P77-billion post-bicam realignment by the Senate, at least P25 billion was parked as additional fund for the senators’ pet projects in the DPWH. No details of the parked funds were contained in the bicam report.
Members of Congress will again be at a loss how the parked funds of the senators found their way to the congressional engineering districts. Lolobo na naman ang pondo ng mga engineering districts at sasabihin na sa mga congressmen iyon. Pero sa totoo lang, mga senador ang naglagay ng additional funds sa mga distrito. We have no means of extrapolating the proponent senators for these projects since the Senate did not submit the individual names of the proponent per project.
The House, for its part, did its job. We itemized our amendments. The itemization was within the parameters of the Bicameral Conference Committee Report ratified by each chamber.
If lump-sums are not itemized, then that is illegal and unconstitutional. That was the main reason why we scrutinized the budget proposal because there were insertions made without the knowledge of officials concerned. Now, it seems we go back to the same practice after all has been said and done.