Senator Panfilo Lacson could be losing a grip of reality for proposing cuts in “humungous congressional insertions” tagged by the Department of Budget and Management as “For Later Release (FLR)” in order to address funding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines for this year.
This was raised Thursday, May 13 by House Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen “Caraps” Paduano as he chided the senator for proposing the re-alignment of funds.
Paduano said Lacson should “do some reality check on his proposed realignment of budget” that was originally intended for infrastructure projects being pushed by congressmen.”
In a meeting with Senate President Vicente Sotto II last week, Lacson said the P20 billion needed for COVID 19 procurement this year can be raised from the FLR funding.
Also present during the meeting were the “three czars” of the government COVID-19 response program, namely Carlito Galvez Jr., Benjamin Magalong and Vince Dizon.
“I suggested that the P20 billion can be sourced from the insertions made by lawmakers marked “FLR” because the implementing agencies concerned were not consulted on the insertions and thus, could not implement them.” Lacson said in a radio interview.
Paduano said Lacson had turned a blind eye at the FLRs of his Senate colleagues.
“Tumingin ka muna sa sarili mong bakuran (You must also look at your own backyard), the House of Senate is one-half of Congress that you are talking about,” Paduano told Lacson.
“I hate to say this, but the honorable senator is fond of mocking the House of Representatives,” the opposition solon stated.
He said it has become “too noticeable” that Lacson has always blamed the Lower House over his disappointments on the budget, “forgetting the fact that budgets are passed and approved by both Houses”.
“There is also appropriations for the construction of the Senate building, why not include that for realignment?” Paduano asked.
“The problem with Senator Lacson is the fact that he always project himself as upright and clean by disowning the budget,” he said.
“The Supreme Court, in its ruling on the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), had declared that Post-Enactment activities of legislators are disallowed during the implementation of the General Appropriations Act. Clearly, Senator Lacson is interfering with the affairs of the Executive Branch in the implementation of the GAA,” the minority leader explained.