Senators urged to explain P190B budget insertions

February 02, 2019

INSTEAD of pointing to House members, members of the Senate, especially Sen. Panfilo Lacson, should explain to the public the P190 billion insertions they made in the proposed 2019 national budget.

This is the challenge of COOP-NATCCO Rep. Anthony Bravo, a member of the House contingent in the Bicameral Conference Committee, to Lacson who again said that each House member gets P160 million pork.

Bravo revealed that the Senate contingent refused to submit the list of the Senate’s individual amendments to the national budget.

Lacson made amendments or insertions amounting to P50 billion, it was discovered.

“What they submitted late in the day, though, was a list of lump-sum amendments made by the Senate,” Bravo said.

He said that the P190 billion Senate insertions would have been kept secret again had the House conferees agreed to the senators’ proposal not to allow media coverage of the bicameral sessions.

Bravo said the House conferees pushed for media coverage of the bicameral sessions precisely to avoid suspicions of horse-trading or secret insertions.

“Matagal na nilang itinatago ito sa taumbayan. Our position was very clear. Every amendment to the national budget must be known to the public and approved by the senators and congressmen. No media coverage, no bicam,” Bravo said.

In fact, Bravo said, Lacson, a member of the Senate contingent, did not attend the first bicameral session for still unclear reasons.

“Nagpakita na lang siya sa sumunod na session nang malaman na may media coverage pala ang bicam,”  Bravo added.

Bravo also criticized Lacson for insisting House members are getting pork.

“Kung sa House galing ang amendments, pork ang tawag ni Senator Lacson. Kung sa Senate galing ang amendments, institutional amendments naman ang tawag niya,” he added.

Bravo cited Article 6, Section 29 of the Constitution that “no money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of appropriation made by law.”

He also cited Supreme Court and Philiconsa vs the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) JR Number 113105 which declares that “the power of the purse belongs to Congress subject to veto power of the President.

Lacson kept on saying that their amendments were institutional and not individual amendments.

“If that is so, why are they so afraid of itemizing their amendment? Dahil ba makikita ng publiko na isinaksak nila ang bilyong-pisong amendments nila sa mga program at proyekto na nakapaloob sa mga congressional districts?” he said.

Bravo reiterated the clear position of the House that they do not want a reenacted budget.