By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago has urged President Duterte to scrap pork barrel funds from the 2019 national budget.
She filed House Resolution 2498, calling on the Chief Executive to ensure that the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget will be pork-free.
“Be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, that the President scrap any and all insertions of pork barrel funds from the 2019 national budget as it has already been declared unconstitutional and it is a betrayal of public trust,” Elago’s resolution said.
“Instead of inserting pork barrel in the national budget, members of the House must find ways to re-channel funds to basic social services such as education, healthcare, and housing,” it said.
Elago recalled that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more commonly known as “pork barrel funds”, has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.
“Despite the declaration, Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that districts represented by close allies of the House Speaker have received “huge insertions” in the 2019 national budget,” she said.
Lacson had claimed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo unlawfully funneled nearly P95 billion in infrastructure funds to the districts of her allies in the Lower Chamber after Congress’ ratification of the spending measure.
“Some anomalies have been reported on the budget allocation of several districts,” Elago expressed concern.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, earlier assured that the itemization of lump sum funds as agreed during the bicameral conference committee was done “equitably” regardless of the House members’ political affiliation.
“On the contrary, if the funds are found to be lacking, there is always the possibility of an augmentation, yan po ang sabi ni Speaker,” he said.
Andaya said no district should suffer an absolutely zero budget since President Duterte has national projects in the countryside. He even assured that there will be no zero budget for lawmakers during Arroyo’s watch.
Andaya said the policy directed to him was to equitize. “No zeros when it comes to district allocations regardless of how the representative voted. That was the instruction,” he said.
“Mission accomplished na kami. Simula’t sapul naman lagi naman sinasabi ng ating Speaker na nais natin na magkaroon ng bagong budget at ito na nga po, detalyado at pinapakita sa lahat ang mga napuntahan ng mga pondo ng iba’t ibang departamento. So, for us mission accomplished. Siguro hindi naman question ang legal ngayon, question lang kung gusto mo o hindi,” he pointed out.