Alvarez, Fariñas deny having hand in pork insertions in budget
Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his buddy, former House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, dismissed insinuations that they had a hand in funneling billions of pesos in pork to their congressional districts.
“I don’t know with him. I have not attended a single budget hearing,” Alvarez said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday when asked about the claim of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. that his district in Davao del Norte province was allotted P5 billion worth of projects.
In fact, Alvarez said he never saw the national expenditure program (NEP) prepared by the Department of Budget and Management.
“Congress has nothing to do in the preparation of the NEP. It’s solely an executive function,” he added.
Alvarez, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s closest friends in the government, was ousted as Speaker in a coup in the House of Representatives shortly before the President delivered his State of the Nation Address in July.
His removal was spearheaded by the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who had locked horns with him over various issues.
Like Alvarez, Fariñas said he was not aware of the amounts set aside for road projects in his district in Ilocos Norte province and that he did not attend any budget hearing in the House since he went on medical leave starting Sep. 15 “when I suffered injuries from Typhoon ‘Ompong.’”
Fariñas, however, said it would not be surprising if his district was allotted P3.5 billion “since my district has one of the longest national highways in the country from Laoag to the boundary of Cagayan province.”
At least P1 billion [in multiyear allocation] has been earmarked for the bridge connecting the Laoag-Bacarra bypass road, he noted.
“Everything listed therein was in the NEP submitted by the President,” Fariñas said.
“I left the majority two days after the Sona when I joined the minority, and there is no way I could have added anything to it,” he added.