Senators confident Duterte will veto any pork if finds in proposed 2020 national budget

Published September 25, 2019, 5:23 PM

by CJ Juntereal


By Mario Casayuran


Senators are confident that President Duterte will veto any pork barrel appropriations that Congress would try to insert in the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget.

Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)


Queried whether he was confident that the President would veto such pork barrel insertions, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson replied: ‘’We are confident. Sinabi naman niya pag nakasilip ng pork he will veto.’’ (He – referring to the President- said he would veto if he sees there are pork barrel appropriations inserted in the budget.) 

Lacson said he was elated upon learning that the House of Representatives leadership did not push through with its plan to give P1.5 billion for each of the 22 Deputy House Speakers 

But he was wary about the fate of some P54 billion in pork barrel for its 300 members.

House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla had 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, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M 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 do not come 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 rearing its ugly at a 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 allegedly embedded in the House bicameral committee report upon the urging of senators, led by Lacson, Drilon and Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.

Lacson said he was getting confused on whether the P54 million for each of the House’s 300 members as revealed by Bicol Congressman Joey Salcdeda was still intact as the House already approved the proposed national budget on second reading. 

He said there were conflicting messages from the Lower House on the fate of these two big appropriation items.

Lacson, thus, expressed confidence that these would be cleared up during the bicameral conference committee meetings on the budget between the Senate and Lower House panels.