SENATOR Panfilo “Ping” Lacson may have raised the white flag in his campaign against pork barrel after admitting that he is now powerless to stop the passage of the 2019 National Budget which he claimed is “laden with pork”.
Lacson reported that the two chambers of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate – are now inclined to pass the version of the budget which they agreed during the bicameral conference committee.
The only action left for Lacson is to vote against the national budget, which he admitted will not affect its implementation.
After the Congress approval, the proposed budget will be turned over to Malacanang’s economic managers for scrutiny and then the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, who Lacson hopes will use his veto power against the pork insertions.
Lacson claimed that that the final version of the 2019 budget still contains the P160 million allocation per congressman and the billions worth of insertions made by other senators.
“Sadly, no matter how hard I argued last night, I only have one vote although I have good reason to believe that some like-minded colleagues are supportive of deleting all pork insertions, particularly the excessive and unconscionable realignments made not only by our House counterpart but by a number of our colleagues as well,” Lacson said.
But all is not totally lost. The senator said that funds meant for flood control, dredging, desilting and deepening projects were erased since it has been a source of corruption in the government.
Also accepted were the amendments to the budget of the Department of Health and also Lacson’s institutional amendments that include the 240-day feeding program of wasted and nearly-wasted school children and additional allowance of teachers.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also admitted that he bas stopped pushing for a reenacted budget for 2019 after the approval of the bicam committee of their version of the budget.