No pork in 2020 budget

September 19, 2019
Martin Romualdez
SAUDI OIL DEPOT BOMBING. House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep.Martin Romualdez (center) discusses with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi (2nd left) the possible impact on the Philippines of the recent oil depot bombing in Saudi Arabia. With them are from right Deputy Majority Leaders Rep.Manuel Dalipe, Rep.David Suarez and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rep.Crispin Remulla. Photo by Ver Noveno

A House leader assured the public that the old pork barrel system has no place in the 18th Congress, especially under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

In a statement, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee and vice chairman of the appropriations committee, said the 2020 national budget is “pork-free” and disallowed “parking.”

“No insert.  No delay.  No impasse.  No GDP cuts.  More jobs from infra and more services eg no delay in 4Ps payouts,” goes Salceda’s description of the 2020 national budget amounting to P4.1 trillion.
According to Salceda, the members of the House of Representatives including local officials like mayors and governors have also submitted recommendations  on the  development projects that may be funded under the 2020 national budget  depending on the needs of their respective areas.

However, Salceda said, just like senators, governors, mayors and barangay officials, members of Congress can only go as far as recommending  projects for their respective areas. It is the executive department who will vet, classify and approve which recommendations are in line with national priorities.

The projects in the 2020 budget bill are all itemized in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacanang to Congress. “Before the budget was submitted, we have already recommended to the Executive Branch which projects require funding under the 2020 budget,” Salceda said.   

All projects identified by representatives of congressional districts and party-list groups that  were included by the Executive Department in the NEP, were deemed necessary based on the  complete work plans and feasibility studies that were submitted by district, provincial or regional authorities of the various departments.

“We would like to point out that lawmakers can only propose but cannot even amend the budget on the floor because of the inline budgeting system that we strictly adhere to ensure that every item in the proposed appropriations law is legal and aboveboard,” he said.

The earlier statement of Salceda about each congressman supposedly getting P100 million each under the proposed budget does not mean that each member of the House would be able to identify and recommend projects worth that amount.

Projects identified by lawmakers are allocated funding under the budget based on the needs of their constituents. Hence if the project identified and recommended for funding is necessary, it may be included in the budget. Since the needs of the people in each congressional district are not the same, the allocations are also not the same.  

“Under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Appropriations Chairman Isidro Ungab Jr. the House of Representatives remains true to its commitment to be a relevant, responsive and reliable Congress that the people can trust. The President has spoken, and we will  abide by his call to ensure that there will be no corruption tainting the 2020 budget and every  budget thereafter that passes  this Congress,” Salceda said.