Senate out to remove ‘parked pork,’ says Legarda
The Senate will remove any “parked pork” from the proposed P3.8-trillion budget for 2019 when it resumes session in January, according to Sen. Loren Legarda.
The chair of the Senate finance committee vowed on Sunday to look into Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s allegations about a scheme in which lawmakers could park unitemized funds in other districts in exchange for using their favored contractors.
“I would want to know more about it and will make sure it does not happen,” Legarda said in a text message.
“All projects must redound to the benefit of the people,” she said.
Realignments to be deleted
Lacson on Saturday said he would look for similar realignments in the proposed 2019 budget “and try to delete them again.”
“The parked pork is for this current year. What I’ll do is find out the status of the projects that correspond to those fund allocations,” he said, noting that “numerous projects” the Senate deleted last year but which were restored in conference had “zero accomplishments.”
Speaking on radio, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said a simple solution to the allegations of pork insertions in the budget bill, whether by lawmakers or by the executive branch, was to take it out.
Choice of contractors
“We will just scrap it. If it’s needed, then we will put funding, if not, then we will cut,” he said.
Lacson alleged on Friday that some lawmakers had offered other legislators pork allotted to their districts on the condition that they got to choose the contractors.
He said he learned about the scheme from a congressman, who claimed that an aide to a senator offered some P200 million worth of projects so long as the senator got to choose the contractor.
On Saturday, Lacson declined to identify the senator or the staff member but urged the identification of other congressmen who might have been approached by the staff member.
“We need to know the other congressmen the staffer approached. I suppose [the congressman] is just one of the people approached,” he said, adding that he could not ascertain if the senator knew what the staff member was doing.
Sotto said it was obvious there was something suspicious if Lacson’s allegations proved to be true.
“That would be bad. If that were my chief of staff, I would fire them immediately,” he said, adding that it was possible the senators had no knowledge of the actions of their aides.
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