Lacson exposes ‘pork barrel’ in proposed 2019 budget

Published December 5, 2018, 11:08 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Mario Casayuran

After flashing on a television monitor at the Senate session hall a P2.242-billion “pork barrel” appropriation for a member of House of Representatives on Wednesday, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson blurted out: “I don’t know who is from Lubao.”

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sr. speakes to the media after the Budget hearing at senate building in Pasay city, December 5, 2018. (Czar Dancel)
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Sr. speakes to the media after the Budget hearing at Senate building in Pasay City, December 5, 2018. (Czar Dancel/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Lacsonstressed this as he continued his advocacy against pork barrel, saying lawmakers have abused their legislative powers as they enjoy the fruits of tens of millions of pesos worth of “pork barrel” allocations.

Time and again, Lacson stressed that the Supreme Court had declared pork barrel allocations as illegal way back in the Aquino administration.

He rued that his solitary quest to purge pork barrel allocations in the national budgets yearin and yearout continued to receive strong denials from Senator Loren Legarda, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. The same denial comes from the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Aside from the pork barrel for the lawmaker from Lubao, Lacson also revealed that another House member was allotted P1.9 billion in “pork barrel.”

He, however, did not give a clue on who was given this “pork.”

During the plenary session Wednesday, Senate President Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III attempted to resolve the pork barrel issue by asking the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) to give its opinion on the issue.

To give spice to his exposition on the grave abuse of power by lawmakers, Lacson revealed that a lawmaker had a P500 million worth of farm-to-market projects in just one congressional district.

He said this farm-to-market road project is, based on the House-approved version of the national budget, is located in Camarines Sur.

Lacsonhad earlier said that there was a total of P51.7 billion in pork barrel in the proposed budget.

Lacson cited a statement of Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, that P60 million was given to each of the 297 House members as a sign of “goodwill.”

Lacson reiterated his battle cry: “If it looks like pork, sounds like pork, and smells like pork, then it must be pork.”

The Senate started last Tuesday plenary debate on the House-approved proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019, with expectation that it be approved in six days.

Senators had balked at the pressure exerted on them to approve the budget after the Lower House sat on it for three months.

House leaders had claimed the delay was caused by change of House leadership where the post of Speaker was passed from Davao Rep. Alvarez to Arroyo.