Senator Panfilo Lacson urged President Rodrigo Duterte to veto what he insisted were “pork barrel” allocations in next year’s P4.1-trillion budget.
“The ball is now in the court of the President, if he will believe our explanation that this is pork and that this should be removed,” said the senator, standing his ground that 2020 national budget was riddled with pork and parked funds.
Lacson said he recommends that the President veto these anomalous budget items.
“Let us leave this matter to the President. We have different points of view and arguments on the matter,” he said.
The senator insisted that allocations that are not clearly identified are still considered “pork” even if they are not made post-enactment of the budget.
He cited as example a P50 million asphalt overlay project for an entire city which did not identify the exact site.
“What’s the difference between the P50 million asphalt overlay in an entire city which we don’t know the location to a post-enactment identification (banned) in the Supreme Court ruling? That’s still pork barrel and that’s still unconstitutional. It is just the same,” Lacson said.
Earlier, Lacson said his office received from the House of Representatives through the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office a USB drive containing two files —a “source” file and the “list” file.
He said a preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the source file was a list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219 billion that was apparently used as congressmen’s “source” for their “list” of 742 projects worth P16.345 billion that were inserted in the bicameral report.
But House appropriations panel chairman Rep. Isidro Ungab said the budget bill approved by the bicameral conference committee has “no pork, no last-minute insertions and no parked funds.”
Lacson, however, insisted otherwise.
“The records won’t lie. This is not like something taken from thin air. There are details,” he said.
“Construction works in Candaba, Pampanga worth P22 million. Where in Candaba? They will identify the roads when they already start construction. The same is true for the construction of roads in Apalit, Pampanga for P18 million and the concreting and widening of roads in Tumauini, Isabela worth P30 million.”
“These are not just vague allocations. These are lump sum allocations,” Lacson added.
Earlier, Malacañang said Duterte will veto any unconstitutional items in the proposed national budget for 2020.
“The provisions in the budget that run counter to the Constitution will be vetoed by the President. There is no change in that policy,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
In April, President Duterte signed the P3.7-trillion 2019 budget with vetoed provisions following alleged insertions in the spending plan.
The President said then that the items, which came as a result of post-ratification budget realignments made by lawmakers, were not within the “programmed priorities” of the government.
The government was forced to run on a reenacted budget this year for four months following wrangling among lawmakers over alleged pork insertions in the national spending plan.