SENATOR Panfilo “Ping” Lacson refocused his expose on pork barrel insertions in the proposed 2019 national budget putting in the spotlight some of his fellow senators who he said have inserted around P3.3 billion for projects in one province.
Lacson said that the fund is under the P23-billion insertions under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He further claimed that the P3.3-billion projects may involve more than one senator but are lumped in just one province.
“P160 million pork for each congressman, and billions more for a few others plus 23 billion for some senators on the DPWH budget alone is too much and unacceptable,” Lacson stressed.
The senator reiterated that he is ready to fight these insertions even if it would mean going it alone in the crusade against irregularities in the budget.
“P160 M/Cong is simply too much and unacceptable. Multiplied by 300 congs, that’s easily 48B, not counting their members who are getting billions more,” he added.
A member of the House panel in the bicameral conference committee (bicam) yesterday challenged Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to work on itemizing the P190-billion Senate insertions in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
In a press conference, COOP NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo, a member of the bicam representing the minority bloc, defended the “itemized” amendments of his colleagues from Lacson’s allegations that each lawmaker will get P160 million worth of projects in the national budget.
“The senator kept on saying that their amendments were institutional and not individual amendments. If that is so, why are they so afraid of itemizing their amendments? Dahil ba makikita ng publiko ‘yung mga isinali nila o isinaksak nila na billion peso?” Bravo told reporters.
“Kung sa House galing ang amendment, ano ang tawag ng publiko including the Senate? Pork po ‘yan. Pag galing po sa Senate anong tawag nila? Institutional amendment ho ‘yan,” said Bravo.
Earlier, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya, Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations and head of the House contingent in the bicam, disclosed that the Senate made P190-billion insertions compared to the P51-billion of the House of Representatives.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, confirmed the statement of Andaya that the Senate inserted P190-billion.
Legarda even named Lacson, a vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, as the one who introduced almost P50-billion in “institutional amendments.”
Bravo lamented the turnaround of Lacson who told the bicameral conference committee last Monday that he acknowledged lawmakers’ needs to bring projects to their congressional districts.
“Our position was clear. Every amendment to the 2019 budget must be known to the public and approved by the senators and congressmen. No media coverage, in our position, no bicam,” said Bravo.
“Senator Lacson did not attend the first bicam… Maybe he was busy. Nagpakita lang po siya sa susunod na session nang malaman na may media coverage,” Bravo added.
With Ryan Ponce Pacpaco