Blame reenacted budget for 2019 on ‘pork wars’ | Inquirer News
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Blame reenacted budget for 2019 on ‘pork wars’

/ 05:03 AM February 05, 2019

With only days to go before Congress goes on break, the government is likely to run on a reenacted budget for 2019.

This possibility loomed after weeks of mudslinging among congressmen, senators and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno about “individual insertions.”

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Congressmen are proposing a pork barrel of P160 million each which they insist is legal. Earlier, the House of Representatives allocated P55 billion for its members’ “pet projects” for 2019.

Senators, on the other hand, realigned P189 billion from the proposed budget with each of them reportedly entitled to P7 billion in “lump sum allocations.” Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson admitted that some senators inserted P23 billion in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget.

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Yet, Lacson himself is being accused of inserting “institutional amendments” in the 2019 budget amounting to P50 billion, again without “itemized lists.”

Lacson says P14 billion will go to the creation of a new military brigade. There were also reports he would seek a clarification from the Supreme Court about its previous ruling on the pork barrel.

Making matters worse is Diokno, who is also being accused of inserting P75 billion in the DPWH budget and holding “questionable biddings” for P180 billion worth of Department of Transportation projects within the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

There are also allegations that Diokno’s in-laws cornered contracts for millions of pesos worth of construction projects as revealed by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr..

These “pork wars” make us shudder in anger, disgust and disbelief as our senators, congressmen and DBM act like piranhas or sharks on a feeding frenzy. Even the Supreme Court’s prohibition on lump sum allocations is being disregarded.

Our lawmen should immediately stop their shameful and reprehensible actions which go against their public pronouncements. That is, unless they want to expose themselves as “money-driven” and “self-aggrandizing” public officials.

Will Quezon City be declared an election hot spot?

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This was the question raised after the killing of PDP-Laban congressional candidate and Barangay Bagong Silangan chair Crisell “Beng” Beltran and her driver last week. The Quezon City police have arrested four suspects who were positively identified by witnesses. Two more suspects are being hunted.

Director Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, says the running assumption is that the killing is an election-related incident. However, the police will continue its investigation to verify this angle.

Eleazar says the “mastermind” transacted with one of the hunted suspects, and he expects them to be arrested anytime.

Smoking is a big problem today with 17 Filipinos dying every hour from tobacco-related diseases. But how do we stop this “addiction?”

Legislators insist on the proposed P120 excise tax per cigarette pack. But some say this will kill the local tobacco industry. Researchers believe in cessation aids and therapy but these are not without withdrawal symptoms.

A friend insists that vaping or the Electronic Nicotine Delivery System is safer and does not produce cancerous tar from tobacco.

Also, studies in the United Kingdom show that smoking went down from 19.8 percent in 2011 to 14.9 percent in 2017 due to vaping. The forecast is that this will further drop to 5 percent in 2030.

For comments and suggestions, please e-mail [email protected]

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TAGS: 2019 national budget, Benjamin Diokno, budget insertions, Jake J. Maderazo, Panfilo Lacson, pork insertions, Rolando Andaya Jr., Sharp Edges
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