Lacson girds for legal battle vs pork barrel
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said on Monday he will comb through the approved P3.35-trillion national budget for next year to pinpoint specific pork barrel funds, which he will question before the Supreme Court.
Lacson had earlier said he would question the General Appropriations Act of 2017 before the high court if President Duterte does not veto billions of pesos in alleged pork barrel insertions.
The President signed the budget law before Christmas without any veto.
“I will have to secure a copy of the 2017 GAA first and scrutinize the same to find out which provisions are in violation of the Constitution and/or Supreme Court ruling in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF),” Lacson said when asked if he would go ahead with his plan to question the budget law after it had been signed by the President.
Lacson was hoping particularly for Mr. Duterte’s veto of the P3.6 billion lodged in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and several other allocations that he considered pork barrel funds for lawmakers.
Lacson said he and his Senate staff will examine the budget thoroughly just as they had done so in the past.
“We’ve been on this for as long as we can all remember,” Lacson said.
Lacson has always refused to accept pork barrel funds since becoming a lawmaker and had been an advocate of budget reforms.
The high court ruled in 2013 that the PDAF was unconstitutional and it prohibited lump sum allocations for lawmakers to their chosen projects. It also disallowed legislators from identifying projects for funding after the budget measure had been passed.
During the deliberations for next year’s budget, Lacson found several billions of pesos in lump sum allocations in the budget of the DPWH that were originally in the budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
With the help of fellow senators, he was able to have at least P8.3 billion that had been inserted in the DPWH budget for ARMM projects reallocated to the Commission on Higher Education to fund the tuition of poor students in state colleges and universities next year.
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