Lacson: 2015 budget has P424-B in discretionary funds
The 2015 national budget is filled with lump sum appropriations or discretionary funds amounting to at least P424 billion, former senator Panfilo Lacson said on Monday.
In a speech before the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants at a Makati City hotel, Lacson said the discretionary funds were discovered based on a continuing review of the 2015 GAA (General Appropriations Act) he and his team were doing.
He said the discretionary funds were ”parked” in the budget of 11 out of 21 major line agencies of the national government.
“Hold your breath. It is still counting,” Lacson added.
Lacson said he and his team found that in the budget of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) alone, the lump sum funds amounted to P11.3 billion.
“As professional accountants serving the interest of the public, I may speak on your behalf when I frown upon discretionary funds as these are prone to misuse and corruption. Our nation bore witness to this malpractice just very recently as we lost at least P10 billion in the PDAF scam led by Janet Lim-Napoles,” he said.
PDAF is Priority Development Assistance Fund, also known as pork barrel funds.
Napoles has been charged with plunder and detained for allegedly masterminding the pork barrel scam. Also charged with plunder and are now detained are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and at least two former members of the House of Representatives.
Aside from the lump sump appropriations, Lacson also questioned the possible resurrection of PDAF, and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
He cited in particular the P6.250 billion lump sum budget for farm-to-market roads under this year’s P39 billion appropriation of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“Base sa National Expenditure Program, Lower House at Senate versions ng General Appropriations Bill, ang badyet na ito ay nakalaan para sa mga regional offices sa bansa. Subalit, laking gulat namin nang makita naming sa naipasang General Appropriations Act, ang mga “regional lump sums” na ito ay naglahong parang bula at napalitan ng 1,389 line budget items para sa farm-to-market road projects sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa,”
(Based on the National Expenditure Program, Lower House and Senate versions of the General Appropriations Bill, that budget was allocated for its regional offices in the country. But we were shocked that in the approved General Appropriations Act, these regional lump sums suddenly disappeared and were replaced with 1, 389 line budget items for farm-to-market-road projects in different parts of the country.)
“Inatado o tinadtad ng mga mambabatas sa pamamagitan ng realignments ang PhP 6.250B. Nangangahulugan ba ito na nagbabalik ang multo ng PDAF na nauna nang idineklarang ‘unconstitutional’ ng Supreme Court sa isang landmark ruling noong July 1, 2014? Sa Department of Agriculture pa lamang po ito,” he said.
(Legislators made realignments on the P6.250 billion [budget of DA]. Does this mean that the ghost of PDAF which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a alndmark ruling issued on July 1, 2014 is making a comeback? And this is only in the Department of Agriculture.)
After the PDAF, Lacson said they also discovered “the obvious reincarnation” of Budget Circular 541, which he said earlier gave the Department of Budget and Management the authority to pool and declare unobligated, unutilized, and unreleased appropriations as savings “not at the end of the fiscal year but the second quarter.”
“We found it in Sec. 70 and Sec. 73 under the General Provisions of the 2015 GAA. Are we now looking at the rebirth of the DAP?” he further asked. AU