Lacson exposes alleged last minute ‘pork insertions’ in the 2020 National Budget

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019   •   831

MANILA, Philippines – The Bicameral Conference Committee finally has approved the P4.1T proposed national budget for next year.

However, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed some last-minute ‘pork insertions’ in the proposed budget, the reason why he skipped the signing of the bicameral conference report on Wednesday night (December 12).

Lacson said he was sent a USB drive that contained the source files and the list files.

Based on their assessment, the source file contains 1,253 budget items amounting to more than P83-B.

Another file includes projects of congressmen amounting to P16-B that was inserted in the Bicam report.

The Lower House has yet to explain the two files.

It is, therefore, not clear if the total insertion was P83-B or P16-B.

Based on Lacson’s initial list, the provinces that obtained the largest allocations include Albay, Cavite, Sorsogon, Batangas, Bulacan, Pangasinan, and Cebu.

These were apart from the 117 flood control projects amounting to more than P3-B that was more suspicious.

Lacson expects President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the said questionable line items in the national budget.

Senator Vicente Sotto III said he will clarify with Senator Lacson the details of his discovery and to assess whether or not to elevate the issue to the President.

“Ang mangyayari sa atin ngayon niyan, in order not to delay the budget, we will just inform the Executive department. That’s the assessment of the Senate,” Sotto concluded. – MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte to veto items in the proposed 2021 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to veto several items in the proposed 2021 national budget, the Palace confirmed on Friday (December 25).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the ceremonial signing for the P4.5 trillion national budget is scheduled for Monday (December 28). The Palace official, however, did not disclose which items in the national budget will be vetoed by the President.

“Sigurado po na magkakaroon po ng veto message. Pero I am not at liberty to discuss po kung ano itong mga items na ito (I am sure there will be a veto message, but I am not at liberty to discuss what theses items are),” he said.

The education sector will receive the bulk of the budget with P708.2 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.8 billion. Meanwhile the country’s health sector will receive P287.5 billion. AAC

President Duterte may sign nat’l budget on Dec. 23 or 28—Roque

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte may sign the 2021 national budget on December 23 or 28, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Roque confirmed that Malacañang has received a copy of the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 from Congress.

The submitted budget also includes the allocation for the government’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well as for the economic recovery of the country.

The bulk of the national budget, amounting to P708.18 billion, will be given to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), state universities and colleges, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive P694.82 billion, which can be used for rehabilitating roads and public infrastructure affected by the previous typhoons.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will get P287.47 billion.

The Palace official also assured that the President will thoroughly review the budget before signing. AAC

Bicam approves proposed 2021 national budget

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The bicameral conference committee on Wednesday approved the final version of the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, which is seen to drive the country’s pandemic and calamity response and recovery efforts.

The spending bill includes a P72.5 billion allocation for the purchase of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Of this allotment, P2.5 billion is allocated for the vaccines under the programmed funds of the Department of Health (DOH) while the P70 billion is placed under the unprogrammed appropriations, dependent on the availability of actual government funds.

Senator Sonny Angara, chairperson of Senate committee on finance and head of the upper chamber’s contingent in the bicameral conference, said that although much of the vaccines for budget was unprogrammed, the Department of Finance gave assurance it will be funded depending on the availability of government revenues.

“Ang akala kasi ng iba, ‘pag unprogrammed, hindi siya mapo-pondohan. It’s not true. But the probability of it being funded is large. We’re assured by the DOF na mapopondohan talaga ‘yun,” he said.

Aside from the allotment of P72.5 billion in the spending bill, Angara said the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) also provides P10 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.

The Bayanihan 2 is set to lapse on December 19 so lawmakers are moving to extend its validity until March or June 2021.

Both chambers of Congress are also planning to extend the validity of the 2020 General Appropriations Act until June or December 2021 for the implementation of programs and projects funded under the measure that was delayed due to the pandemic.

The budget bill also set aside funds for infrastructure projects for projects ravaged by recent typhoons.

The approved version of the budget also retained the P19-billion funding of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Lawmakers are eyeing to submit the 2021 budget bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing before December 25.

The bicam version of the budget bill has to be ratified first by both the Senate and the House before it can be submitted to the Office of President. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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