ANTIQUE GUV BID PREP
Senate Finance committee chairman Loren Legarda allegedly allocated P2.8 billion through amendments in the 2019 proposed national budget for Antique where she is seeking the lone congressional district in the May midterm elections.
Lacson did not identify the other provinces that were allotted with suspected pork barrel
Thus said Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Saturday, a day after the Senate ratified the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget via a 15-5 vote.
Previously, Lacson had refused to identify fellow senators who were supposedly behind the P23 billion individual amendments, or what he considered as “pork barrel.” However, he cited three huge insertions amounting to P2.7 billion, P2.3 billion and P2.8 billion allotted to certain provinces.
He said the insertions were intended for graft-prone flood control, dredging, construction of multi-purpose projects and even feasibility studies.
“The P2.8 billion is Antique. My conclusion there… that is for Senator Loren,” said the senator over DwIZ.
He added the Antique police was also allotted with “intelligence fund and fuel allowance.”
“I said the PNP (Philippine National Police) will get angry with this, because this should be for the central headquarters and even the CoA (Commission on Audit) will be mad because these cannot be bundled. There is no item in the budget for intelligence fund and fuel allowance,” Lacson, a former chief of the PNP, said.
He did not identify the other provinces that were allotted by senators with suspected “pork barrel.”
While admitting losing in the vote against the “pork-laden” 2019 national budget last Friday, he vowed he will now focus on the implementation, if there will be any, of projects supposedly funded by the billions worth of insertions made by lawmakers.
Lacson, who was the only member of the Senate majority bloc who voted against the national budget, said he respects the result of the vote.
He earlier had called on his fellow senators and members of the House of Representatives to “publicly release their own amendments in the P3.757 trillion proposed 2019 national budget.”
He said “some fellow senators” inserted P23 billion in what he described as individual amendments which he considered as “pork barrel.”
“Life goes on! We lost the vote on ‘pork’ insertions in the 2019 budget and we respect the will of majority of our colleagues,” Lacson said.
“I guess our drone will again be very busy flying later this year to oversee how those ‘projects’ are implemented, if at all,” he added.
In a privilege speech, Lacson reiterated the 2019 national budget approved by the bicameral conference committee, headed by Legarda and House Appropriations committee chair Rep.
Rolando Andaya Jr., retained P160 million “pork” for each of the 297 congressmen and P23 billion for some senators.
“They can’t deny what I’ve been exposing all along. I always use official documents as my reference. I’m lucky to have honest, hardworking staff,” he said.
The senator expressed hope President Duterte, through his economic managers, will scrutinize the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act and exercise his veto power to rid it with billions worth of “pork barrel” that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Andaya warns vs veto
The war appears not over between the House of Representatives and the members of the Cabinet despite the ratification of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“My unsolicited advice to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the new spokesman for DBM (Department of Budget and Management), Sec. Ben Diokno, be careful with the crafting of the veto message for it will just lead back to where it all started,” Andaya said in a statement.
The House leader referred to Lacson’s privilege speech last Friday before the Senate ratified the budget where he alleged that the P75-billion insertion was a connivance of the past leaders of the House and the DBM.
“The public never forgets that you were part of the previous House leadership as chairman of the Appropriations committee,” Andaya reminds Nograles.
The P75-billion “insertion” became the cause of the delay in the passage of the 2019 GAB after the lawmakers accused Diokno that he included the additional fund in the Department of Public Works and Highways budget.
“I do not know where Sec. Diokno gets the gall to call the 2019 NEP (National Expenditure Program), with DBM’s P75-billion insertion as the President’s budget. The President is not part of the conspiracy between the DBM and the previous House leadership. It will be a great disservice and disloyalty for few Cabinet members to drag the President into this mess,” Andaya stressed.
With Hananeel Bordey