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Lacson: Budget not pork-free

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has confirmed the existence of pork in the recently signed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 following the Inquirer story that 24 lawmakers had been deprived of infrastructure funding for their districts for not toeing the administration line.

“By their own admission, albeit begrudgingly,” Lacson said on Wednesday in reference to the 24 lawmakers, when he was asked whether the front-page Inquirer story on Dec. 20 confirmed that there was pork in the 2018 budget.

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Pork funds are allocations in the budget that finance pet projects of senators and congressmen. The graft-ridden funds are a major source of kickbacks for lawmakers.

Lacson, who opposes pork, tweeted early Wednesday regarding the Inquirer story. “As we were made to believe this is a ‘porkless budget,’ we see this—HEADLINES ‘Undesirable’ 24 Dissenting solons lose pet projects.”

In text messages, Lacson said: “Quoting from martial law years under Marcos, ‘some are smarter than others.’”

The senator said “a chosen few from both houses (of Congress) are getting billions worth of projects in areas of their choices and districts.”

He said he had discovered most of these “owned-up” projects when he tried to slash from the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) some P68 billion worth of infrastructure projects with yet unresolved right of way (ROW) issues during the deliberations on the 2018 national budget.

The Senate adopted Lacson’s proposal to lop off P50.7 billion from the budget of the DPWH for ROW acquisitions.

He also pushed to slash P18.4 billion more from the DPWH budget over its failure to disaggregate the ROW cost in its infrastructure projects for 2018.

But both allocations were eventually restored in the reconciled version of the budget, prompting Lacson to wonder about the amendments he had introduced when the reconciled measure was brought to the floor.

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TAGS: 2018 national budget, Panfilo Lacson, Philippine news updates, ‎pork barrel
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