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Leachon using ‘squid tactics’ to muddle censure by House – Villafuerte

/ 12:08 AM March 04, 2020

 LRay Villafuerte

MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte took exception on Tuesday to what he called the “latest rant” of Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon about an alleged congressional insertion for a major infrastructure project in Villafuerte’s home province of Camarines Sur.

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He called the accusation “not only preposterous” but also “an insult to all lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, including himself.”

He said Leachon had resorted to “squid tactics” in a “desperate bid” to muddle his censure by the entire House, which kicked him out earlier this week as chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), allegedly for “acts of impropriety.”

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“In the first place, all allocations in the 2020 General Appropriations Act [GAA] have gone through a rigorous process of scrutiny, starting from the House committee on appropriations up to the plenary, and then in the same episodes in the Senate, before the final vetting stages at the GAA bicameral conference committee and, later, the Department of Budget and Management [DBM]/Malacanang before the budget bill is signed into law by the President,” Villafuerte said.

Following is the rest of Villafuerte’s statement:

“For anyone to believe that there is a supposed congressional insertion for a CamSur project in the 2020 GAA, he or she must suspend disbelief and accept what is impossible — that I had managed to pull a fast one on all legislators, both senators and representatives, in last year’s congressional deliberations on the 2020 budget program.

“Besides this, the President had signed the 2020 GAA without any line veto, which only means Malacanang/DBM did not find anything irregular in this year’s Congress-approved budget bill, including the outlay for CamSur’s provincial capitol complex in Pili town that has been the object of Rep. Leachon’s undue attention.

“The only way to accept Representative Leachon’s logic is that the CamSur project in question is an unwarranted congressional insertion just because I had pushed for this GAA allocation in my home province. Which means all projects proposed by our peers in their respective districts or home provinces are congressional insertions, too, and ergo, are pork — including those projects that Representative Leachon had lobbied for in the budget bill for Oriental Mindoro, whose total amount, by the way, more than doubled from the original P1.1 billion to P2.33 billion in the final version of the 2020 GAA.

“But I do not take it against him for pushing such projects, as the people of Oriental Mindoro certainly deserve to benefit from the unprecedented infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration. It is about time that provinces like CamSur and Oriental Mindoro partake of the fruits of this long due effort by government to improve regional connectivity and close the country’s logistics gap to achieve true countryside growth and development.

“Representative Leachon’s latest claim only shows he’s a perennial liar, especially when caught red-handed. Pork barrel insertions and amendments after the bicam talks are illegal, did not happen, and will never happen under the leadership of Speaker Alan Cayetano, who has committed to the House’s approval of a pork-free and graft-free budget bill on his watch,

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“It only happened in the 19th Congress, with the consent of Rep. Leachon, which is probably why he is an expert on doing that. But I categorically state that his claim is false and baseless, and never happened in the 2020 budget.

“Nonetheless, I am glad that Representative Leachon has brought this project up for it has given me a splendid opportunity to tell the public about this ambitious venture to build an iconic and eco-friendly provincial capitol in Pili. It promises to be an instantly recognizable symbol of our province as it was designed as a spiraling assembly of pili husks, that will look like a flower from the sky, as a tribute to the No. 1 native delicacy — the pili nut — that our province is known for.

“This iconic building is just the first of a set of major public works project that CamSur leaders, including myself and Gov. Migz Villafuerte, have lined up for implementation in support of President Duterte’s ’Build, Build, Build’ (BBB) program. CamSur’s other BBB projects in the pipeline are the expansion of the Naga Airport, also in the town of Pili; the modernization of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) line; the CamSur West Coast Tourism Highway that will connect the towns of Balatan, Pasacao, and Ragay; and the Bicol River bridge that will connect the town of Libmanan to Naga City.

“Representative Leachon probably lacks the vision and leadership to pursue similarly ambitious projects in Oriental Mindoro in support of President Duterte’s BBB. This is probably why he resents the rise of iconic projects elsewhere in the country, to the point of maligning them with undue allegations of irregularities.

“But there is still time to address Rep. Leachon’s apparent inadequacy. Should he want to, I am ready to help him design similarly iconic projects in Oriental Mindoro that his constituents and province mates could be proud of.”

/atm

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TAGS: 2020 national budget, congressional insertions, LRay Villafuerte, Salvador Leachon
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