Lacson questions P54-B allocation for House Reps in 2020 budget

Maris Federez   •   September 23, 2019   •   442

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday (September 23) questioned the P54-Billion allocated for House representatives (HOR) in the 2020 proposed national budget.

“In the initial information that we received, each Deputy speaker, 22 of them, will be receiving an additional allocation of P1.5-B. So that’s P33-B and each congressman will be given an allocation of P700-M,” Lacson said.

The senator sought to have the matter thoroughly checked to ensure that it is not a pork barrel.

Lacson claimed that he got the information from a member of the Lower House.

But based on the statement made by House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Joey Salceda, they are only allocating P100-M to each congressman, which, he said, is based on the need of their respective districts.

Lacson, however, said that the allocation is still questionable, as he is not sure if it had gone through the intense scrutiny of the lower house and the agencies that could be the recipient of such funds.

“Hindi naman dapat pare-pareho ang allocation sa district [Allocation for each district need not be identical]. It should be need-based and priority-based,” he added.

The senator stressed that the law provides that a government agency or a particular district should have already identified a project and the details of which are already itemized in the budget proposal before the said fund is released to them.

“Kung ii-introduce pa lang nila as amendments o individual amendments, lalabas bawat isa sa kanila may P100M [If they will introduce it as admendments or individual amendments, it will turn out that each of them will have P100-M]. Then, if it is not pork, I don’t know what it is,” Lacson further stressed.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, maintained that the fund is not a pork barrel, as it is intended for the construction of flyovers, seaports, airports, and other major highways in their districts.

He also argued that the Senate can scrutinize the budget in the bicameral conference.

“I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank na concern pa rin yung bawat congressman na hindi ma-zero or hindi maisahan yung kaniyang lugar at wala masyadong pondo. Pero walang nakatagong pork,” Cayetano asserted.

[I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank that the congressmen are concerned that their districts will not be left behind and be without a budget. But there is no hidden pork in it.] (from the report of Grace Casin) /mbmf

House urged to probe govt’s alleged delayed warning on Taal eruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 16, 2020

A lawmaker has urged the House of Representatives to investigate the government’s alleged delayed warning on the Taal eruption.

Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said there were “no news bulletins or SMS alerts” from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and other government agencies about the heightened activity in Taal Volcano.

“Due to lack of information, in the afternoon of the same day, while Taal Volcano is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still traveled towards it, while those who were already near Taal Volcano were shocked to see the smoke spewing from it and had to immediately flee under the dangers of ashfall,” he said.

Barzaga filed House Resolution (HR) No. 643 on Monday (January 13) and was released to the media on Tuesday (January 14).

However, Phivolcs reiterated there was no delay in the warning on the Taal eruption

During a press conference, Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division chief, Mariton Bornas said, “Those on the island were already relaying to us their observations.”

“They were given advice in case they needed to evacuate,” she added.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said “there are 6,000 people on the island. Nobody was injured, no one died.”

“It’s amazing. We should thank God nothing happened,” he said.

Malacañang said it is within the powers of Congress if they will approve the resolution or not.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he is pleased with the performance of government agencies including the performance of Phivolcs Officer-in-Charge and Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum.

“I am really very pleased, very happy that all agencies are here on hand and trying their best to help the community,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Lacson says proposed 2020 budget still tainted with pork barrel

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said the proposed 2020 national budget signed by the congressional bicameral conference committee is still tainted with pork barrel.

In a statement, Lacson noted that “bad habits are indeed hard to break,” as he revealed some of the budget insertions allegedly made by the House of Representatives before the bicameral conference committee approved the report on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.

“It is revolting to note that legislators keep on dipping their dirty fingers on our national budget in spite of pending cases involving the same issue,” he said.

The senator said he did not attend the signing of the report on the budget bill which was held during a meeting at a hotel in Makati City.

He mentioned that one reason why he skipped the meeting was because his office received a USB containing two files – the “Source” file and the “List” file – from the Lower House on Tuesday night.

“Our preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345B that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning,” he said.

“Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345B or the bigger amount of P83.219B was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing,” he added.

He continued with: “What is clear, though, is that there are still lump sums and vaguely described projects that are now part of the bicam report.”

Lacson said that their initial check of the files showed that the top provinces with huge allocations include:

  • Albay – P670M
  • Cavite – P580M
  • Sorsogon – P570M
  • Batangas – P502M
  • Bulacan – P440M
  • Pangasinan – P420M
  • Cebu – P410M

He also claimed that 117 flood control projects worth P3.179-billion dominated the insertions, “with eight projects uniformly budgeted at P60 million each.”

“There are more corruption-driven insertions in the Files sent to us that I have not mentioned. Thus, we will continue to diligently scrutinize it and inform the DBM and the Office of the President as I have high hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will again display his aversion to corruption,” he added.

“Pork is here to stay. I hope the President will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money,” he further stated.

House adopts resolution granting additional incentives to SEA Games medalists

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 5, 2019

The House of Representatives (HOR) has adopted a resolution that will push for additional incentives for Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medalists.

On Wednesday (December 4), The House adopted House Resolution No. 568 which grants SEA Games medalists additional incentives from the leaders and members of the House in the 18th Congress.

“As a concrete manifestation of the commonality of the goal to bring honor and pride to the country, the leaders and members of the House of Representatives deem it proper to deduct individual pledges from their salaries from January 2020, as additional incentives to Filipino gold medal winners in the 30th SEA Games,” the resolution states.

The resolution also states that the “House stands in solidarity with Team Philippines throughout the competition in their quest to capture the gold medals in their respective sports, and to bring honor and pride to the Filipino people.”

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously said he is willing to provide additional incentives to Filipino athletes who will bag medals in the SEA Games.

As of December 5, at 9:30 a.m., the Philippines has collected a total of 119 medals with 56 gold, 41 silver, and 22 bronze. The SEA Games will continue until December 11.—AAC

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