Solons spot cuts and insertions, ‘hidden pork’ in 2018 budget
Some lawmakers took notice of what they alleged as “dagdag-bawas” (insertions-cuts) and “hidden pork” in the final version of House Bill 6215, which proposes to appropriate P3.767 trillion national budget for 2018.
The House of Representatives has reshuffled a total of P46 billion in the 2018 General Appropriations Bill, which passed in third reading last month, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, both of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
“Apart from the P40 billion increase for education specifically for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, we noted increases in the budget of departments for additional hidden pork despite earlier claims that the 2018 budget is pork free,” Tinio said.
The lawmakers said these projects had been been “nominated by legislators or programs with a post enactment nature where politicians may have a say in identifying beneficiaries, thus classifying them as hidden pork.”
“We are very alarmed at the increases in hidden pork barrel in the 2018 budget and even more alarmed at the decreases in the budget for social services,” Castro said.
The lawmakers said they discovered the following:
- A P6.95 billion increase in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its local programs from P64.831 billion to P71.782 billion
- A P5.2 billion increase in the calamity fund of the Special Purpose Funds from P25.5 billion to P30.7 billion
- A P3.418 billion increase in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s budget for the protective services for individuals and families in difficult circumstances from P3.418 billion to P5.349 billion
- An additional P1.652 billion increase in the budget of the House of Representatives for its operations
The cuts and insertions in the budget, according to the lawmakers, were made through a rubber vote.
Tinio said: “A small committee composed of a handful of legislators selected by the House leadership voted upon and approved on third and final reading without informing the House members on the changes made.”
“Since the bill was certified urgent by the President, the constitutional requirement that hard copies of the final version be given to individual members for their perusal was dispensed with, thus depriving legislators any opportunity to study the amendments,” he said. “The third reading vote was literally a rubber stamp vote.” /atm