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

Maris Federez   •   September 23, 2019   •   253

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

Salceda blames opposition for questionable P15-M road project in 2020 budget

Maris Federez   •   October 8, 2019

Albay Representative Joey Salceda

Albay Representative Joey Salceda on Tuesday (October 8) defended the Lower House against what Senator Panfilo Lacson has referred to as a “sloppy job” on the 2020 national budget.

Lacson particularly mentioned the 15 million-peso road project which he referred to as a mere “cut and paste” work.

The House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson, instead, said what they did in the lower chamber can be considered as a job well done because they were able to pass the proposed 2020 national budget within just 30 days.

He added that whatever glitches had occurred may have been caused by the opposition group.

“I don’t think so. I think we did a great job. The House did a great job under Chairman Ungab. It’s probably the opposition that did a sloppy work,” Salceda said.

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, however, refuted Salceda’s statement.

Castro said they just exposed what they think as a big cut on the budget allotted for education, health, and other public services.

She added that what should be considered sloppy work is the process adopted by the House leadership.

Castro added that the House majority should be held responsible for the approval of the 2020 budget which did not undergo thorough review and consideration.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they will remove the alleged 15-million-peso road improvement fund from the 2020 proposed budget which Lacson discovered.

Sotto said he agrees with Lacson that it is not clear as to which project the said fund will be particularly allocated.  

“Hindi sinabi kung anong road kaya sabi nya sloppy. Siempre, ano’ng road yun? Road to perdition o anong road,” he quipped. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

House pushes for Electronic Health bills

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 2, 2019

A medical staff member (C) reviews records of patients treated for leptospirosis at a government hospital in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 03 July 2018.  EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

The House of Representatives is pushing for the creation of an electronic health system to strengthen the primary health care system in the country.

House Committee on Health on Monday (September 30) created a technical working group (TWG) that will consolidate several measures seeking to create the country’s electronic health system and services.

According to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, there is a need to address the lack of information and medical record keeping.

“For Filipinos in general, it is not a usual practice to keep such documentation—whether of previous check-ups, diagnostic test results, medication, treatments, and procedures done, among others,” he said.

One of the bills pushed is House Bill 8 which seeks to establish the National Health Passport System and strengthen the primary health care system.

“As stated in HB 8, all Filipino citizens shall be entitled to a Health Passport to be used when a patient avails of medical and dental check-ups or treatment provided in government or private medical institutions,” according to House statement—AAC

Lacson releases copy of Castro’s lobby letter seeking P258 million

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson has released a copy of Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro’s alleged lobby letter seeking financial assistance worth P258 million.

In a statement published on Thursday (September 26), Lacson belied Castro’s statement that the said letter was ‘fictional.’

“In a letter dated Sept. 19, 2019, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro lobbied with Sen. Lacson for financial assistance to construct a municipal building for Dumalag town, costing P258 million,” the statement reads.

Lacson also posted on Twitter that Castro and his co-conspirators in the House had allegedly illegally inserted P95B in the 2019 national budget which was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Thursday Castro said the letter was not related to pork barrel.

“It was not a lobby letter. It’s a letter-request just like any other letters I sent to other senators,” he said in a statement. “Lobbying is different. My letter-request shows my resolve to help my constituents. It’s not pork barrel.”—AAC

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