Lacson scrutinizes ‘pork’ in proposed 2019 national budget
MANILA, Philippines—Would senators really get P200 million each from the 2019 national budget?
Senator Panfilo Lacson asked this pointblank on Wednesday as he scrutinized on the Senate floor the proposed budget next year.
Lacson noted Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.’s earlier claim that members of the House of Representatives have been allotted P60 million each while senators would get P200 million each for their pet projects next year.
“Meron ba talagang P200 million ang bawat senador?” Lacson asked.
While saying there is no such thing as P200 million budget for each senator, Senator Loren Legarda said the “amendments” being proposed by their colleagues could be more or less than the amount.
Legarda is defending the 2019 budget as chair of the Senate committee on finance.
Whenever she was asked by Senate colleagues how much amendment they can propose in the budget, Legarda said she would tell them to just leave it to her discretion.
“Just submit what you believe is needed whether it’s a helicopter which you and Senator JV (Ejercito) recommend for the PNP (Philippine National Police) or the PNP command center or body cameras or it’s a sea plane which you said is needed or an immigration building which you said that should be built…” she said.
“I don’t think that totals to P200 million. It could be more, it could be less. So there’s no cap, there’s no limit, there’s no smaller or bigger. It would depend on the need as you say, of the constituency, of the district, of the province and of the agency.”
“So there’s no such thing as P200 million or P2 million but it could be an amendment of a senator because that’s part of legislation,” Legarda further said.
When Lacson pressed whether the budget allotted for lawmakers are considered “pork,” Legarda clarified that no cash allocations had been given to any member of Congress.
“This is not P60-million cash. This is probably P60-million identification of projects that can be implemented in the districts,” she said, referring to congressmen’s reported budget for their pet projects.
“Hay, heto na naman tayo Mr. President…” Lacson heaved a sigh.
“‘Til kingdom yang discussion na yan Mr. President—yung they are not holding the cash. We know that. It’s lodged in all the agencies pero sino yung nagpipili ng mga projects?” he added. /jpv
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