Withdrawal of 2020 budget bill may lead to ‘pork’ insertions – Bayan Muna
MANILA, Philippines – The withdrawal of the bill for the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, otherwise known as the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), while budget deliberations are still ongoing may be a prelude to pork barrel insertions, leaders of the party-list group Bayan Muna said on Monday.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares called for a suspension of the budget deliberations until the 2020 GAB is refiled.
“This development is quite alarming, even disturbing. It smells like the greasy patronage pork is being put into the oven. In light of this we are calling for a suspension of the budget deliberations until the 2020 GAB, as originally based from the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacañang is refiled,” Zarate said in a statement.
“We also need to scrutinize the GAB that will be refiled to see if indeed more pork, amorphous lump sum funds or intelligence and confidential funds have been added to the budget,” said Rep. Zarate.
House Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte earlier said he withdrew the GAB from the plenary last August 28 after it was filed on first reading by the appropriations committee on the same day.
Villafuerte reasoned that the bill was “prematurely” filed as government agencies are still presenting their budget proposals to the chamber.
Colmenares said he asked Malacañang last week to explain the reported P1.7 trillion special purpose fund of the President and his Cabinet.
The amount, he said, is more than a quarter of the country’s 2020 national budget.
“Now it seems Congress is following the executive’s move and adding their own pork to the budget,” Colmenares said in the same statement.
“We should really be vigilant against pork barrel because they are using taxpayer’s money through the national budget as a personal piggy bank. We are challenging President Duterte to veto any pork in the budget whether it be Congressional or presidential pork,” he added. /gsg
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