SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday said he would not respond to pork barrel “rumors” following the continued failure of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to substantiate his allegations.
Cayetano also stressed that the P9.52 billion institutional amendments of the House of Representatives under next year’s national budget will make the life of Filipinos better.
“I won’t respond to rumors,” Cayetano told reporters in a press conference after media asked his sentiment on Senator Lacson’s seasonal attacks on the House of Representatives during budget deliberations.
“My mother told me not to be a rumor-monger. When you engage in rumors, you become a rumor-monger yourself,” Cayetano explained as the House of Representatives is scheduled to transmit to the Senate this Tuesday the proposed P4.1 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for next year.
“It seems that he (Lacson) can’t accept that this House is also against pork,” said Cayetano as he reiterated that the House-approved budget is pork-free and bereft of any illegal parking and insertions of funds.
In the same press conference, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, said House members are one with the anti-pork barrel advocacy of Lacson.
“Our good friend, Senator Ping whose crusade against pork is similarly shared by all of us here in the House,” said Romualdez as he lamented the premature criticisms against the House-approved national budget, explaining it has yet to reach the Senate.
Cayetano said he is willing to sit down with Lacson and all critics if they see pork barrel in the national budget.
“Tell me where the pork is and we’ll sit down with you,” he said.“If there is pork, identify it and we’ll be the one to remove it from the budget.”
Cayetano said the biggest winners under the proposed institutional amendments of the House of Representatives are the farmers because it seeks to augment the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to procure more palay and enhance the agency’s quick response team’s ability to cope with emergency situations and calamities.
“There’s no pork in palay,” said Cayetano. “How can palay be pork?”
“We added P3.5 billion to allow the Department of Agriculture to buy more palay and strengthen the quick response capability of the agency to respond to emergency situations like the African Swine Fever (ASF) that we have now,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano enumerated the agencies as well as the programs that will be funded from the P9.52 billion, which they proposed to realign in the 2020 budget. These include: Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Interior and Local Government-Philippine National Police, Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Health, UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), Department of Transportation (DoTR, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
“The national budget is an effective tool to achieve the President’s vision to achieve a safe and comfortable life,” Cayetano said in his opening statement during the press conference.
“As an institution, we put minimal changes in the proposed budget. This is more of symbolic change to give proper direction of where the budget should be going,” Cayetano explained.