WHILE the new leadership of the House of Representatives aims to provide all districts with allocations, these are not considered pork barrel.
This is how Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. responded to the claim of Senator Ping Lacson that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo distributed P60 million each to members of the House.
According to Andaya, the Speaker and any other members of the House appropriations committee have no power to distribute projects.
“Speaker has no power to distribute projects. In fact, no member of Congress, no senator can arbitrarily order that this amount is to be released for these projects,” Andaya said.
“Fund releases are guided by the one official bible on spending, and that is the national budget,” he added.
Andaya further explained that the one who approves releases authorized in the national budget is the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“It is a power that resides exclusively in the executive. In our system of government, no member of the legislative branch can order the downloading of funds from the treasury,” Andaya noted.
The solon said that what is erroneously being referred to as pork barrel in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill are funds initially allotted for all congressional districts in the country.
He pointed out that Speaker Arroyo has the underlying principle of no district will be left behind.
“All will get a share a piece of the pie, for the benefit of their constituents. These are not pork barrel funds declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
“Lahat po ng ordinaryong mamamayan sa mga distrito ay may karapatang magtamasa ng benepisyo ng proyektong pinondohan ng kanilang buwis,” Andaya said.
“They have the right to enjoy the fruits of their taxes, regardless of their political affiliation. Hindi issue kung supporter sila ng administration o opposition.
“As long as the funds are dedicated to a specific purpose, does not require post enactment measures, and is participated in by the Congress as a legislative body, and not by individual members, then it can be allowed,” he added.
On the other hand, Andaya said what the SC prohibits is encroachment of Executive Power (as post enactment measures are part of executive functions) and non-delegability of legislative powers since the determination of purpose by the individual members can be considered as a delegation of rule-making powers.
According to Lacson, the House leadership realigned the P51 billion questionable budget allocations to the projects of all solons, which he considers as pork barrel.