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Lacson asks colleagues to make public amendments to 2019 budget

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 06:06 PM January 29, 2019

 

MANILA, Philippines  – For transparency purposes, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday urged fellow legislators to publicize their proposed amendments to the P3.7-trillion 2019 budget.

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In a Twitter post, Lacson said he made public his own institutional amendments on his website to “remove all suspicions” that the bicameral conference committee is a “venue for sneaky horse trading”.

He added that he hopes other senators and member of the House Representatives will also publicize their proposed amendments.

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“In the spirit of transparency, I instructed my staff to make public all my amendments in the 2019 national budget,” Lacson said.

“I hope all proponents will do the same to remove all suspicions that the bicameral conference is a venue for sneaky horse-trading among legislators,” he added.

Lacson said he proposed amendments to the budget which sought to benefit sectors including education, the environment and national security,

He assured the public that there is no room for “pork” in these institutional amendments, for three reasons: need, planning, and vetting.

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“Our taxpayers can thus sleep well knowing there is no room for ‘pork’ with these institutional amendments,” Lacson said.

Lacson said it was those individual amendments such as flood control projects and various structures that were based on the “intervention” of lawmakers and had no consultations with the implementing agencies that could be considered “pork barrel.”

He said that such lack of planning could be deadly, citing the case of landslide-prone roads in Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay or the BLISTT area.

“The bottom line is, did the insertions and realignments come from the implementing agencies? Or was there at least a consultation with them? Was there planning for such programs? If not, the funds involved would end up as unused appropriations, because the implementing agencies do not know what to do with them,” said Lacson.

In the P3.7-trillion budget for 2019, Lacson proposed institutional amendments that would benefit school children, through programs of the Department of Education. These include:

1.) Quick Response Fund: a P2-million increase to P4 million, with the added P2 million from P8.889 billion to be deducted from appropriations for the Department of Public Works and Highways’ road right-of-way funds.

2.) School-Based Feeding Program, 240 days of lunch meals for severely wasted and wasted learners: an increase from P3.967 billion to P7.68 billion, with the added P3.7125 billion from deductions from Local Government Support Fund-Other Financial Assistance to Local Government Units, under Allocations for Local Government Units

3.) Teacher Quality and Development Program, from P8.169 million to P1.7081 billion, with the added P1.7 billion from the P6.1 billion to be deducted from the farm-to-market road program under the Department of Agriculture

4.) Textbooks and other instructional materials, increase from P1.794 billion to P1.9014 billion

5.) Computerization program, an increase from P4.263 billion to P7.188 billion, with P2.925 billion from allocations for farm-to-market roads

6.) Increase in appropriations for the Environmental Management Bureau from P2.523 billion to P2.525 billion, with the P2.352 million increase to fund monitoring and inventory of greenhouse gases of pollution laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao.

7.) Increase in appropriations for the Supreme Court and lower courts by P920.669 million, including:

  • P111.985 million added to the operations of the Philippine Judicial Academy
  • P20 million to augment the operations of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
  • P300 million for the construction and repair of Halls of Justice
  • P488.684 million to fund the salary differential of first level courts.

Lacson earlier disclosed that he proposed P4.78 billion to mobilize the new infantry unit to address the threat of terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Group.

He also proposed an increase of P666.219 million to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center’s 2019 budget.

Lacson also sought to increase the Pension and Gratuity Fund by P867.42 million to fund the additional P15,000 increase in old-age pension of 4,869 senior veterans.  / gsg/ac

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