THE Majority Leader of the House of Representatives yesterday said self-proclaimed anti-pork barrel crusader Senator Panfilo Lacson has introduced P50 billion of his own allocation into the 2019 budget.
The House leader at the same time warned of a possible deadlock in the Bicameral Conference Committee deliberation on the national budget should the senators not present the line items in their P190 billion amendments.
But unlike the line item or itemized amendments of the members of the Lower House in the budget, Lacson has yet to give the specific details of where his P50 billion allocation will go, making it like a lump sum appropriation or pork barrel.
“Nadiskubre po ng mga kasapi ng Mababang Kapulungan sa Bicameral Conference Committee na ito pong ating kaibigan na si Sen. Lacson ay may ipinasok na halagang P50 billion para po sa kanyang pangangailangan na halaga na ayon sa kaniya ay hindi pork barrel,” Majority Leader Fredenil Castro pointed out.
He said Lacson had refused to call it pork barrel or insertion but “institutional amendments.”
While Lacson said the amount will go to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, he has yet to give the details on where the fund will go.
“On the other hand and asked by us and by way of example, itong natuklasan na P50 billion na ipinasok ni Sen. Lacson na ayon sa kanya ay hindi pork barrel, hindi insertion, ito ay institutional amendments ay natuklasan na hindi naman naka-line item o hindi naka-itemized kung paano gagamitin ang halagang ito,” he said.
It is confusing, he said, that Lacson would call the line item appropriations of congressmen in which projects are properly identified pork barrel when he would not call his own P50 billion lump sum appropriation as not pork but institutional amendments.
But Castro pointed out that there have been no clarifications as to “the difference between insertion and institutional amendments.”
He further reaffirmed the opposition of the House against a reenacted budget of 2019, citing statements by economic managers that the growth rate of the Philippine gross domestic product will drop by 1 to 2.6 percent under reenacted budget in 2019.
“Taliwas sa mungkahi o ipinagsisigawan ng ibang members ng Senado na mag-reenacted budget tayo, pero hindi papayag ang Mababang Kapulungan. Kailangan ang ating budget for the year 2019 ay bago at hindi reenacted,” he said.
Castro said that a possible deadlock with the Senate on the matter of a reenacted budget and the P190 billion allocations from the Senate will be addressed should it arise. Lacson’s P50 billion allocation is part of the P190 billion amendment being introduced by the Senate to the 2019 budget, he said.
He revealed that there is also no itemized allocation for the P190 billion amendments introduced by the Senate to the budget.
“Ayaw nilang ibigay kung ano at magkano ang halaga na kanilang ipinasok dito sa proposed 2019 budget,” Castro said.
He said that the lump sum has been highly contentious because it is unclear what the funds are being allocated for.
“Hindi natin binibigyan ng kulay ang layunin kung bakit itong P190 billion ay ipinasok ng ating mga kaibigan sa Senado. Subalit itong P190 billion hanggang ngayon ay hindi naipapaliwanag ng senators kung saan gagamitin ito,” Castro said.
He said a possible deadlock on the budget may take place should the Senate not reveal line items in their P190B “institutional amendments.”
“If the Senate stands firm on its position na hindi matanggap ng House dahil ito ay contrary to spirit of accountability and transparency, hindi maliwanag sa publiko kung saan gagastuhin o saan dadalhin ang pera ng mamamayan, we will cross the bridge when we are there,” he said.
But he pointed out that the door is not closed on the possibility of a special session. Castro gave the assurance that while calling for a special session may be unlikely especially when the campaign period begins, House Members will nonetheless attend.
“They will have to come. Kung hindi sila dadating, walang proyekto ang kanilang distrito,” he said.