Lacson not giving up on scrapping ‘pork insertions’ in 2019 budget
Marje Pelayo • February 7, 2019 • 1465
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson expressed dismay over the result of the caucus in the Senate on Wednesday night (February 6) as ‘pork insertions’ remained in the bicameral committee report despite his opposition.
Lacson claimed that Senate Committee on Finance chair, Loren Legarda, did not present what was agreed upon between the senator and House Appropriations chairman, Rolando Andaya, in a small group bicam.
The senator claimed that the ‘pork insertions’ specifically “the P160 million per House member, plus the billion-peso insertions made by a number of their colleagues, and the P23-billion Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) insertions by a number of senators plus other insertions in different agencies have all been retained.”
Lacson felt he was alone and said it was no use fighting for his argument.
“Sadly, no matter how hard I argued last night, I only have one vote,” he said.
Still, Senator Lacson has high hopes that some of his colleagues who have the same argument as his “are supportive of deleting all pork insertions”.
Meanwhile, a number of amendments were also retained in the Senate version of the proposed national budget including realignments of funds for flood control projects like the procurement of dredging machines; the 240-day-a-year school feeding program; additional allowance for teachers; and other appropriations.
Lacson, however, remains hopeful that President Rodrigo Duterte will heed his call to veto the line items in the proposed bill that pertains to the ‘pork insertions’.
“Hopefully, the President and his economic managers will further scrutinize the final version of the budget bill as passed by Congress and exercise his veto power to excise the line items that clearly look and smell like pork,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay believes it is better to wait for the result of the bicameral conference committee meeting tomorrow for the final version of the budget bill.
After bicam, the Congress is expected to ratify the proposed 2019 National Budget Act.
“Malaking epekto nito sa ekonomiya kapag natuloy itong reenacted budget so by tomorrow, hopefully meron na tayong 2019 budget,” the hopeful Binay concluded. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
Senator Panfilo Lacson said there is no “conflict of jurisdiction” on the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against ABS-CBN.
In a statement, Lacson said Solicitor General Jose Calida cannot be prevented from filing the petition in the case of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.
“The quo warranto petition is under the original jurisdiction of the Court. Approval or renewal of legislative franchise is the jurisdiction of both houses of Congress. As such, I see no conflict in jurisdictions,” the statement reads.
Calido’s filing of the quo warranto petition against the media network drew backlash from several Senators, including Senator Risa Hontiveros. According to her, the executive should not ‘hijack’ Congress.
“Whether or not ABS-CBN violated the terms of their franchise, the right body to tackle this is Congress and the executive should not try to hijack this through the judiciary,” she said in a media interview.
Lacson said that based on Article VIII, Sec 5, Paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction over a petition for quo warranto, among other petitions filed by the State through the Office of the Solicitor General.
“Congress is likewise not prevented from exercising its powers under the same Constitution to act on the application for renewal or a new franchise,” Lacson added.
Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court to revoke the existing franchise of ABS-CBN due to franchise violations.
“The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., must be revoked. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws,” Calida said in a statement.—AAC
According to Lacson, it is difficult to find a connection between Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation and the President’s threat to terminate the US-PH VFA.
The senator said a “visa is a conditional authorization given by a country to visiting foreigners which may be granted, cancelled, and even denied.”
“The VFA is a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the US that went through some back and forth discussions prior to Senate ratification but not without intense plenary deliberation,” Lacson said in a text message.
Duterte, on Thursday (January 23), gave the US a month to reverse the visa cancellation of Dela Rosa.
“I am warning you, kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan (if you don’t issue a correction), I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Duterte said during his speech in San Isidro, Leyte.—AAC
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)
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