By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Monday said his crusade and advocacy against the pork barrel system in the national budget has nothing to do with former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or with any senator or member of the House of Representatives.
“(Deputy Minority Leader and Coop Natco Party List) Representative (Anthony) Bravo’s opinion reflects his own attitude and character. I am a forgiving person,” Lacson said about of his personal fight with Mrs. Arroyo during her presidency where she wanted him arrested.
Arroyo failed because Lacson had become a fugitive and had mysteriously left the country.
“I have already forgiven all those who had wronged me in the past. This is about the national budget. This is about my personal anti-pork crusade and advocacy, not Speaker Arroyo or any congressman or senator,” he said.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto said Bravo’s tirade against Lacson is off tangent.
“Di naman buong Senado ang may problema dito. Di naman is Senator Lacson (The problem is not about the whole Senate. It is not Senator Lacson). It is just that Senator Lacson is very vocal about it and he is very much against the pork barrel,” he added.
Bravo claimed Lacson wis “holding hostage” the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 because of “personal vendetta” against Speaker Arroyo.
Although both Houses of Congress have ratified their bicameral conference committee report on the national budget, an enrolled budget bill has yet to reach Malacañang, with Lacson claiming the House leadership is “doctoring” the pork barrel allocations in the budget bill to favor pro-Arroyo congressmen.
“Senator Panfilo Lacson is holding the budget hostage because of personal vendetta to our Speaker GMA. He has not said anything good about the Speaker from the very start of her leadership as the Speaker and in fact even before the change of leadership in the House…” Bravo told reporters in a press conference.
Bravo likewise belied Lacson’s claim that Arroyo unlawfully funneled nearly P95 billion in infrastructure funds to the districts of her House allies after Congress had ratified the final version of the P3.8-trillion budget this year.
He also maintained that the Lower House did not do anything illegal when it itemized the lump sum portions in this year’s expenditure plan, arguing that Lacson merely did not want Arroyo and her leadership to succeed.