Job for Ombudsman

December 13, 2018

It is a settled issue: Pork barrel has been declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

And if lawmakers insist on retaining them in the current national budget, then they are liable for graft or related offenses.

The presence of these discretionary funds for lawmakers’ pet projects was exposed by a senator long opposed to pork-barrel allocations.

The lawmakers’ insistence on retaining the outlawed allocations could serve as ground for the Office of the Ombudsman to step in and investigate.

With exposes on "pork" in the proposed P3.7-trillion budget for 2019 now coming out left and right, it may be time for new Ombudsman Samuel Martires to step into the picture.

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said this Tuesday as he thanked an unlikely ally for revealing that a single contractor hogged no less than 30 flood control projects worth billions of pesos.

Lacson said both the House of Representatives and the Office of the Ombudsman  can conduct their own probes into the revelations.

"Expose pa more! A single contractor bagging 30 flood control projects worth billions of pesos calls for a congressional inquiry/Ombudsmaninvestigation. Thank God I found an unlikely 'ally' in Cong. Andaya," Lacson said in a post on his Twitter account.

He was referring to House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., who made the expose in a privilege speech on Monday.

In his speech, Andaya claimed a single proprietorship based in Bulacan cornered the flood control projects in provinces including Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, Lacson bared a congressman got at least P1.9 billion in congressional insertions while a congresswoman got P2.4 billion.

Figures from the General Appropriations Bill 2 - the House version of the national budget bill - showed P2.4 billion worth of projects are in Pampanga's second district while P1.9 billion in projects are in Camarines Sur.

These amounts are aside from the P60 million each House member got for his or her pet projects.

Andaya represents the first district of Camarines Sur, while Speaker Gloria Arroyo represents the second district of Pampanga.

When Andaya said this could be a case of "misplaced generosity," Lacson said the lawmakers concerned can show good faith by declining such amounts.

Meanwhile, Lacson maintained he is prepared to continue his crusade against pork even if he has to go  it alone.

Lacson has waged a mostly lonely battle against the pork barrel system since he delivered a privilege speech detailing the evils of the pork barrel system in 2003.