Andaya: No pork in 2019 General Appropriations Bill
Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. admitted on Wednesday that representatives would get around P60 million while senators would get P200 million for their pet projects, but he denied these are pork barrel funds which had been declared illegal by the Supreme Court (SC).
In a statement and in an interview with CNN Philippines, Andaya said what was “erroneously” being referred to as pork barrel in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill are funds initially allotted for all congressional districts in the country.
“The underlying principle here: no district will be left behind. All will get a share a piece of the pie, for the benefit of their constituents. These are not pork barrel funds declared illegal by the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement.
Andaya defended the allocation, saying it is allowed “as long as the funds are dedicated to a specific purpose, does not require post-enactment measures, and is participated in by the Congress as a legislative body, and not by individual members.”
“What the SC prohibits is encroachment of Executive Power (as post enactment measures are part of executive functions) and non-delegability of legislative powers since the determination of purpose by the individual members can be considered as a delegation of rule-making powers,” he further explained.
Pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which had been declared as unconstitutional by the High Court in 2013, is a lump sum discretionary fund of lawmakers usually used to fund their pet projects.
Andaya also dismissed Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “distributed” P60 million worth pork barrel funds to congressmen from the P3.757 trillion 2019 national budget.
But the House leader said a Speaker has no power to distribute projects, and no member of Congress could “arbitrarily order that this amount is to be released for these projects.”
“Fund releases are guided by the one official bible in spending, and that is the national budget. And the one who approves releases authorized in the national budget is the DBM Secretary,” Andaya said. /muf
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