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No pork in 2021 budget — Velasco

Lord Allan Velasco

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco assured the public that the 2021 national budget is free from the controversial pork barrel.

In a television interview, Velasco said the small group that is now deliberating on amendments mainly to the budgets of departments and agencies asking for more funds.

“Let me assure you, that there is no pork in the budget,” Velasco said.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the House Bill 7277 or the General Appropriations Act of 2021.

The proposed national budget for next year is pegged at P4.5 trillion or is 9.9 percent higher than the 2020 allocation.

Following the budget approval, Velasco created a small committee headed by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and chairman of the appropriations committee Eric Go Yap.

“The small committee would only do institutional amendments, mainly departments and agencies asking for more budget. That is their job. After that, the budget will be forwarded and transmitted to the Senate and then after that there is also still the bicam,” he added.

According to Velasco, the Congress will see to it that there will be fair and equitable distribution of funds for the infrastructure projects of every district under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)

“I always believe in fair and equitable distribution. Meaning not exactly equal for every district but depending on their needs. If the department needs more budget then definitely it should be given more budget. And for the district, that doesn’t need a lot of budget, they will get lesser,” Velasco said.

“It’s not only infrastructure that we’re looking at when we talk about the budget. . . we are also looking for the assistance that will be given to the people. Mga ayuda iyan like livelihood, hospital assistance, financial assistance that are also included in the budget na mas kinakailangan ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Speaking of allocations, Velasco said there is no assurance that the budget of Taguig City and Camarines Sur will not be touched .

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo Teves had questioned the bigger allocations for the district of Cayetano and his ally Camarines Sur Rep. Lray Villafuerte, amounting to P11 billion and P8 billion respectively.

Also, the Makabayan bloc questioned the allocation for barangay development under the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro claimed the P1.6 billion budget is a general’s pork and vulnerable to corruption and arbitrary spending.