Let departments explain ‘parked’ funds—Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — The executive departments allegedly found with billions of pesos in so-called “parked” funds should be given a chance to explain, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Monday, Nov. 4.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a staunch opponent of pork barrel funds, had said he found P20 billion worth of projects parked, or just listed without start and completion dates, in the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
The questionable funds, Lacson said, were in the details of the budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Interior and Local Government.
“Let’s give the agencies a chance to respond,” said Cayetano in an interview.
“But I’m glad the budget was being scrutinized thoroughly,” he added.
“We’re also scrutinizing the budget. We’re also interested if there’s even a single peso that ’s questionable,” Cayetano said.
Lacson said he would propose that the P20 billion allocation be deleted though he admitted he cannot consider it pork barrel, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund, which the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional in 2013.
Cayetano, who will serve as Speaker for 15 months under a term-sharing agreement with Mindoro Rep. Lord Alan Jay Velasco brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, welcomed Lacson’s comment that no pork barrel was found in the proposed budget submitted by the House to the Senate last September.
“The budget process is not yet done, we still have a bicameral conference committee,” said Cayetano.
“But even in the bicam, I can assure all our people, including Senator Lacson, that there’s no parked funds, there’s no pork and we will try to eradicate corruption and avenues of corruption,” he said.
“Thank you for a good comment but we have to work harder to make sure the budget is really relevant,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
After passage at the Senate, the proposed budget would be discussed in what has been dubbed as the third chamber of Congress, the bicameral conference committee composed of members of the Senate and House.
The version to be adopted by the bicameral committee would be ratified by both chambers of Congress and sent to Duterte for his signature./TSB
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