Cayetano: I won’t respond to ‘tsismis’ on ‘pork’ in 2020 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said he would not respond to unfounded claims or “gossip” on the alleged “pork barrel” insertions in the 2020 national budget.
Cayetano said this amid the “word war” between some members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on the 2020 national budget.
He said he invites anyone — be it a senator, a congressman, or even anyone of the public — to criticize the House-approved P4.1-trillion budget for next year.
“Anyone can criticize but I won’t respond to tsismis (gossip). Tell me where the pork is, I’ll sit down with you, let’s discuss it,” Cayetano said in a press conference.
“If people give us tsismis and say ‘may sources’, how do you respond to that? (If people give us gossip and say ‘they have sources’, how do you respond to that?)” he added.
He maintained that the House version of the 2020 budget bill, or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), does not contain any pork barrel funds and parked funds.
Pork allegations in the 2020 budget stemmed from Senator Panfilo Lacson. He said there was a plan in the House to allocate P1.5 billion to each House deputy speaker while each member would get P700 million. He later said that the plan did not push through.
However, this led some House members to urge the senator to apologize to and reveal his sources, which Lacson refused to do.
Cayetano said that while he “respects” Lacson’s “advocacy” in fighting pork in the budget, he said that the senator seems to cannot accept that the House is also “anti-pork.”
However, he said he assumes that Lacson’s criticisms are “in good faith.”
The House leader also said he expects that the bicameral conference committee on the budget would be “contentious in regards to what programs should be funded” but he expects it to be “smooth” in terms of pork barrel funds.
However, he said he cannot guarantee that no one would spread gossip about the 2020 budget.
“Everything is on the record, on paper, so makikita naman ng ating kababayan at kayo po sa media (Everything is on the record, on paper, so it can be easily scrutinized by the public and the media),” the Speaker said.