Sotto, Recto: No ‘pork’ but institutional amendments for senators
MANILA, Philippines–What “pork” for senators?
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III was clueless when asked about Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya’s fresh allegations that the bulk of the alleged P75-billion “pork” in the 2019 budget would go to senators.
Andaya was quoted in the article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer saying that the 23 senators would receive at least P3 billion each in government projects. He said the remaining P5 billion of P75 billion would be shared by 292 congressmen.
“I don’t know what he is talking about,” Sotto said in a text message on Friday when sought for comment.
“What I know is that senators have institutional amendments that [the] departments requested or restorations,” he said.
But if Andaya’s allegation was indeed true, then Sotto reiterated his call to just adopt the National Expenditure Program or for President Rodrigo Duterte to veto all amendments of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Senate and the House are set to meet again in a conference at 2 p.m. today, Friday, to reconcile their versions of the 2019 budget.
But some senators, including the chair of the Senate committee on finance, Senator Loren Legarda, have already expressed confidence that the budget would be approved in the bicam and would be ratified later by Congress.
While he had not read yet Andaya’s reported allegations, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he would review it anyway when they meet in the bicam.
“Rep. Nonoy may be referring to institutional amendments. The Senate normally has more institutional amendments,” Recto said in a separate text message.
The senator pointed out that he himself made P68-billion worth of institutional amendments: P18 billion was allotted for Universal Health Care, P10 billion for Coco Levy and Coconut Modernization Law, P10 billion for Rice Tariffication Law, and P30 billion for Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was the first to expose the alleged billions worth of “pork” insertions in the budget, said he would address Andaya’s allegation in a privilege speech before the Senate ratifies the bicam report.
Congress extended its sessions until this Friday to tackle the 2019 budget. /jpv
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