‘Pork’ to be transferred to gov’t programs if not itemized

Published November 7, 2020, 4:30 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Lump sum appropriations, also tagged as ‘’pork barrel,’’ would be transferred to specific government programs if they are not broken down or itemized.

This was stated by Sen. Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, on the fate of these lump sum appropriations in the proposed 2021 P4.5-trillion national budget.

Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson usually takes issue at the presence of pork barrel appropriations in annual national budgets during Senate public hearings.

Angara said the Senate abides by a Supreme Court decision that lump sum appropriations and post enactments are deemed unconstitutional.

Lacson had earlier said that lump sum appropriations and questionable re-appropriations litter the National Expenditure Program (NEP). The NEP is the basis for the drafting of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB or national budget).

Lacson had estimated that these questionable appropriations, embedded in the proposed 2021 P666-billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), amount to more than P400 billion.

In transmitting recently the House-approved GAB, House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured that there is no pork barrel in the budget.

Earlier, Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon forecast a ‘’bloody’’ Senate-House bicameral conference committee meeting on the pork barrel issue once the Senate has approved its version of the national budget.

Interviewed by DWIZ radio Saturday afternoon, Angara said the DPWH appeared to have already itemized the hundreds of projects.

These projects are usually proposed by lawmakers for their constituencies.
Angara stressed that what is prohibited are lump sum appropriations and the inclusion of projects after the budget has been approved.

He said funds for projects not itemized would be transferred to specific programs.

The Senate resumes regular session on Monday where he would receive reports from chairmen of 10 Senate finance sub-committees as a result of their public hearings.

On Tuesday, the Angara mother committee will sponsor the budgets of specific agencies assigned to him followed by interpellations on the Senate floor.

Other sub-committees will later deliver their sponsorship speeches to be followed by floor debates.

Angara expressed hopes that both legislative chambers would ratify their bicameral conference committee reports for eventual transmission of their enrolled GAB to President Duterte. The President may either approve or veto it before the end of the year.