- Lacson questioned the P80-M amount of proposed projects for each congressman which has been included in the 2017 national budget
- The senator said it could send a wrong signal to people that the outlawed ‘pork barrel is back in Congress
- Budget Secretary Diokno, however, argued that the amount cannot be considered ‘pork barrel’ since the budget is not yet approved
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson didn’t see much difference between the P80-M allocated for projects for each congressmen in the 2017 national budget and the much-maligned and outlawed ‘pork barrel’ fund of the past administration.
During the national budget hearing at the Senate on Tuesday, August 30, Lacson questioned the P80-M amount of projects each representative is allowed to submit to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which he said is tantamount to allowing the controversial ‘pork barrel’ to come back in the system.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno admitted at the hearing that each lawmaker at the Lower House was allowed to submit to his department s list of proposed projects which has been included in the National Expenditures Program (NEP).
Lacson said these provisions should be scrapped and the funds should instead be redirected to concerned agencies to avoid the congressmen from meddling with the government projects.
“That should be scrapped. It should be reappropriated to the agencies so that legislators will not be able to meddle with the function of the executive. It should be stopped,” Lacson stressed.
Lacson, who claimed a congressman provided him a copy of the said pro-forma list of projects, programs and activities, noted that legislators should not intervene with the executive department’s function in crafting the national budget.
“It’s as if we are returning to PDAF. Why did the congressmen identify projects? They will oversee them. They are the ones who know where to allocate the funds,” he said; adding that the move could be violating the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling declaring the system ‘illegal’.
However, Diokno said, the P80-M proposal cannot be considered a ‘pork barrel’ since it still needs approval for the funding whenever these projects are deemed viable and beneficial to the people.
Besides, Diokno added, the SC ruling was very clear in saying that only proposal after the budget has been approved, or so-called ‘post-operative’, will not be funded.