DECEMBER 11, 2019 — Lawmakers from the lower house of Congress have managed to make “corruption driven insertions” amounting to billions of pesos in next year’s proposed 4.1 trillion pesos national budget, a senator said on Wednesday.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the congressmen had made some unexplained last minute changes in the bicameral conference committee report, accusing them of deliberately inserting “pork barrel” in the 2020 budget.
“Pork is here to stay,” he said. “I hope the President will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money.”
Lacson, who did not sign the committee report, said the congressmen did not offer any explanation for the changes.
“It is revolting to note that legislators keep on dipping their dirty fingers on our national budget in spite of pending cases involving the same issue,” Lacson, a former police general-turned politician, said.
Hev said his office has reportedly received two different files from the House of Representatives showing conflicting changes. One file showed changes in the budget having 1,253 items worth 83 billion pesos and the other with 742 projects worth 16 billion pesos.
“Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345 billion or the bigger amount of P83.219 billion was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing,” he said.
Lacson also questioned additional funding worth hundreds of millions for the provinces of Albay, Cavite, Sorsogon, Batangas, Bulacan, Pangasinan and Cebu, and P3 billion-worth of 117 flood control projects in the insertions.
Once ratified by Congress, which lawmakers target to do before Christmas, the spending bill for 2020 will be up for Duterte’s signature before the year ends to prevent another reenacted budget. (Christian Deiparine/MM)