By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
“I dare him to try.”
This was Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s response to members of the House of Representatives who threatened to reduce the Upper Chamber’s budget amid claims of “pork” insertions in the 2020 proposed national budget.
In demanding an apology from senators over “pork barrel” allegations hurled against congressmen, Anakalusugan Representative Michael Defensor on Wednesday said the Senate’s budget should be slashed.
The budget, said the party-list lawmaker, should be transferred to House members since they supposedly have no constituencies.
“I dare him to try,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters when asked about Defensor’s remarks.
Sotto also commented on Defensor’s description of the Senate as an institution which “cannot discipline a member”.
“Why will we discipline our members? I’m not aware of any violation of any of our members. We do not interfere with their internal business so i expect them not to interfere with ours,” Sotto said.
The word war between senators and congressmen on the annual budget started anew when Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed that the Lower Chamber attempted to allocate P1.5 billion in “pork barrel” funds to deputy speakers.
Defensor and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said Lacson and the entire Senate should apologize to House members for these claims.
But Lacson said he will not apologize and vowed to be more vigilant in scrutinizing the national budget.
“The whining and howling of Congressman Castro and his like-minded colleagues will not distract me from performing my mandate of scrutinizing the budget measure,” he said.
“As for those House members who abused the hard-earned money of taxpayers for the longest time that they availed of ‘pork,’ they are the ones who should apologize to the Filipino people,” he added.