By Mario Casayuran
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is keeping his fingers crossed on revelations that the House of Representatives has some P54 billion in pork barrel for its 300 members.
Aside from this P54 billion fat, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson, the House has plans to give P1.5 billion each to the Lower House’s 22 deputy speakers as additional allocation.
House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla blasted Lacson for trying to muddy the waters with ‘’unsubstantiated accusations.’’ He described the senator’s allegations as ‘’baseless and unwarranted.’’
Asked about Lacson’s revelations, Drilon replied: “My take is, I will wait for the budget as passed by the House and I will compare it with the President’s budget and see what are the insertions made.’’
Drilon said this could be seen later when the alignments are not coming from the agencies.
‘’We will see. I don’t want to comment until I see it,’’ he added.
Drilon, a former Senate president and a former justice secretary, emphasized that he would certainly be guarding against the unconstitutional pork barrel system in the House budget version.
‘’Last year, the reason why the (2019) budget was delayed was that there was about P90 billion addition to the DPWH (Department of Budget and Management) budget, which the Public Works Secretary said he didn’t know what it was. It was apparently added after the bicameral report was finished. We were able to catch it, scrutinize it and recommend the exercise of a line item veto. We will do the same exercise,’’ he said.
President Duterte deleted the P90 billion pork in the 2019 budget embedded in the House bicameral committee report upon the urging of senators led by Lacson, Drilon and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
This Senate-Lower House fight over the budget resulted in its delayed approval by President Duterte.
Stressing that he has yet to see a House budget version after its approval before making a comment, Drilon said he does not think it is proper ‘’to comment on the behavior of the other House.’’
‘’We will just look at the document and if in our best judgment it does not serve public interest, we will do what is necessary,’’ he added.