MALACAÑANG on Thursday insisted that the P3.35-trillion national budget this year was compliant with a Supreme Court ruling that declared discretionary and lump sum funds illegal.
“The President is particularly abhorrent to giving favors to particular individuals in line with his inaugural vow to serve every one and not only one,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Thursday.
He made his statement after Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed that the Calamity Fund in this year’s budget had apparently been reduced for “political favors and alliances.”
In the House, Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said Lacson was “confused” when he claimed that the 2017 national budget was rigged with “pork barrel” insertions.
Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said the P3.35-trillion national budget this year was pork-free and compliant with the Supreme Court order against pork barrel funds.
“There is no pork barrel. There is no PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] in the budget,” Nograles said.
“There are no post-enactment projects in the budget. You will only see specific line-item projects that have been identified by different agencies and departments of government. I think that Senator Lacson is confused about this issue.”
Earlier, Lacson said the P8.5-billion fund that he had sought to be removed from the Public Works budget for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was restored when data from the Budget department showed that the same amount was taken from the calamity funds and moved to Public Works and about P500 million more was given to the department.
He said the irregularity remained even with reports that the P8.5 billion was reallotted as funds to subsidize the tuition of poor students in state colleges and universities. He said the free tuition scheme through the P8.5-billion allotment remained.
But Abella said the 2017 budget was free from any “pork” and that the Department of Public Works and Highways would be in charge of projects addressing the effects of calamities.
“We understand the concern of Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former presidential assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, on the slashing of the Calamity Fund. However, the 2017 budget is compliant with the Supreme Court decisions on PDAF and DAP,” Abella said.