Was Senate pork barrel retained in budget?

Vicente Sotto III

THE chairman of the House committee on appropriations has asked Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III if the seeming celebratory mood of the Senate this Holy Week on the budget issue has something to do with the retention of  the senators’ alleged “pork barrel” under the 2019 P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., the panel chairman, raised the question after Sotto said President Rodrigo  Duterte signed into law the 2019 national budget or Republic Act (RA) 11260, but vetoed a total of P95.3 billion, including the P75-billion alleged “insertions” of the House of Representatives.

“My friends in the Senate are going to town claiming victory over the deletion of the House amendments. Does this mean that the Senate pork remains intact? Could this be the reason for their celebratory mood? Hindi Biyernes Santo sa Senado ngayon kundi Pasko. It behooves the Senate to tell the people how much in their insertions were carried in the national budget? And how big is the bacon each senator is bringing home?,” Andaya asked.

House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “welcomes the President’s signing of the 2019 budget.”

“We respect his decision to veto some items in the budget.  We will abide with the President’s decision and respect the thorough study made by his team after all factors were considered. With the signing, we can all buckle down to work and start implementing the President’s priority projects for the Filipino people. The House of Representatives will continue to work in harmony with the President’s desire to create a better life for every Filipino,” Castro stressed.

Andaya said Sotto should work for transparency by itemizing the alleged lump sum or pork barrel funds of the senators.