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Existence of ‘pork’ makes fight vs corruption ‘pretentious’ — solons

/ 02:15 PM December 11, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc said on Tuesday that the existence of pork in the 2019 budget and the squabble between allies of President Rodrigo Duterte show that the government’s drive against corruption is pretentious.

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, the pinpointing between economic managers and the House of Representatives leadership proves that the practice of inserting pork funds, despite a Supreme Court ruling against it, is very much alive.

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“‘Yan ang isang dapat nating tuligsain sa nangyayaring bangayan nito ng dalawang kampo sa loob ng koalisyon ng Duterte administration.  For all its pretensions na anti-corruption campaign, ito buhay na buhay ang isang pinagmumulan ng masahol na korapsyon sa ating kasaysayan,” Zarate said in a press briefing.

“Five years after the decision ng Supreme Court ‘don sa PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), for all the pretentions ng Kongresong ito, nagpapatunay lang ito na the pork is alive and kicking,” he added.

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Previously, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s district is getting around P2.4 billion worth of projects after realignment in the 2019 budget.

READ: Lacson: P2.4-B pork for Arroyo’s district

Malacañang called on Arroyo to explain why it happened.  After this, Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya — an Arroyo ally — clarified that all allocations have been itemized.

READ: Palace wants Arroyo to explain alleged P2.4-B pork barrel

He then responded by saying that Malacañang favored a certain Bulacan-based contractor, after being given at least 30 government projects for 2019.

READ: Duterte wants Arroyo to explain alleged P2.4-B ‘pork’ – Panelo

However, Zarate claimed that politicians quarreling about pork are not concerned about the removal of lump-sum or earmarked funds.  Rather, they are all looking to have a bigger share.

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“Hindi sila nag-aaway dahil ayaw nila ng pork, ang pinag-aawayan dito, sino ba ang mas malaki na pork na makukuha sa ating budget, lalo’t higit sa susunod na taon ay eleksyon,” the lawmaker said.

“Bilyon-bilyon ang pinag-aawayang pork, samantalang tinatapyasan ang maraming budget, sa pangkalusugan, eskwela, pabahay, at batayang pangangailangan ng ating mga mamamayan,” he added.

On the other hand, ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said that the 2019 budget suffers from these clashes.

“Malinaw talaga na hostage o bihag ng alitan ng dalawang magkatunggaling paksyon sa loob ng ruling coalition ni Pangulong Duterte ang 2019 budget,” Tinio explained.

“Kaya nga for the first time in nine years, halos tiyak na na magkakaroon na naman muli ng re-enacted budget at malinaw nga ang nagbabanggaan dito.  Clearly may power struggle sa dalawang grupo na ito, yong battle ground nila, itong 2019 budget,” he added.

In 2013, the Supreme Court voted 14-0 to declare the creation and use of pork barrel funds as unconstitutional.  The ruling was reached after the Pork Barrel scam was exposed, implicating lawmakers who allegedly allocated part of their PDAF to bogus non-government organizations owned by mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. /je

READ: SC declares PDAF unconstitutional

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TAGS: Antonio Tinio, Carlos Zarate, House of Representatives, Makabayan bloc, martial law extension, Mindanao, Philippine news updates
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