Lawmaker demands apology from Lacson over pork barrel accusations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 26, 2019   •   156

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro has demanded an apology from Senator Panfilo Lacson for accusing him and other Congressmen of inserting ‘pork barrel’ funds in the 2020 national budget.

During his privilege speech on Wednesday (September 25), Castro said Lacson’s accusations has tainted the reputation of the institution.

“Because of this irresponsible and reckless act that has damaged not only the reputation of this institution but more importantly the reputation and integrity of each and every member of this house especially the newcomers who have come with their idealism in these halls intact,” he said.

The lawmakers added, Lacson has no right to make such accusations since he has not seen the General Appropriation Bill approved by the House of Representatives.

“That makes him more irresponsible. He has not seen a single line of the General Appropriation Bill, he has not studied yet as he claimed the GAB approved by the House,” Castro said.

However, Lacson maintained his stance on the issue and said Castro, along with other Congressmen allegedly involved in the pork barrel insertion, should apologize.

“As for those House members who abused the hard-earned money of taxpayers for the longest time that they availed of ‘pork,’ they are the ones who should apologize to the Filipino people,” Lacson said in a statement.

“The whining and howling of Congressman Castro and his like-minded colleagues will not distract me from performing my mandate of scrutinizing the budget measure,” he added.

On Monday (September 23), Lacson said several House members reported that House Deputy speakers will be getting additional P1.5 billion allocation in the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 National Budget.

Lacson added that the House will also be getting another P700 million to allot for their pet bills.—AAC

Lacson advises Robredo not to join anti-drug ops; focus on cutting drug supply

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has advised Vice President Leni Robredo to focus more on reducing the supply of illegal drugs in the country instead of joining an anti-drug operation.

Lacson gave the advice after he met with Robredo on Friday to discuss what she could do in her new role as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD), which President Rodrigo Duterte handed to her last week.

The senator said Robredo’s presence in drug stings might compromise the operation due to security protocols as the country’s second-highest official.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director-general Aaron Aquino earlier challenged Robredo to join one of the anti-drug operations, to which she accepted.

READ: NCRPO chief prepared to let VP Leni join drug busts

“Sa security pa lang, nakakalat na security niya, mate-telegraph ang operation. But they could make some arrangements paano isasagawa yan,” he told UNTV News in a phone interview.

“Pero from briefing sa jumpoff tapos sa mismong operation, di pwedeng pabayaan mo Bise Presidente ng bansa. Pangalawang pinakamataas na opisyal ng bansa natin, ilalagay mo ang buhay sa alanganin dahil susugod siya roon,” he added.

Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said the focus of the drug war has been on the demand side which mostly targets drug users and peddlers on the street.

He pointed out that cutting the supply would make the street value of drugs prohibitive and take down big-time dealers.

“Kapag supply yung focus mo, concentrate mo, unang una magiging prohibitive ang presyo, Pangalawa, siyempre mga big-time drug dealers ang mga mahi-hit mo,” he said.

Lacson also said that further strengthening the process of intelligence gathering against those involved in the narcotics trade would also help in the anti-drug campaign.

He added that during his stint as PNP chief, he maintained close coordination with his foreign counterparts and drug enforcement units in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Lacson also said that he gave names of some people who could help Robredo with the law enforcement part of the job but did not elaborate on who these are. – RRD (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Lacson to discuss anti-drug campaign with Robredo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 7, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (R) and Vice President Leni Robredo (L)

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he will meet with Vice President Leni Robredo to discuss about the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Lacson previously said he is willing to share whatever modest law enforcement experience he gained in his previous life.

He announced they are currently fixing the schedule of the meeting.

READ: Pangilinan asks public to support Robredo as she takes on drug war challenge

“We are fixing our schedule to sit down. I am grateful and humbled by her gesture. More than that, it shows her sincerity and seriousness in tackling her new task,” he said.

Robredo accepted the offer to become the drug czar on Wednesday (November 6) after President Rodrigo Duterte designated her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) in a memorandum signed on October 31, days after Robredo stated in an interview that the administration’s drug war has been ineffective.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Lacson calls on colleagues to bare amendments in 2020 budget bill

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday challenged his fellow lawmakers to bare the amendments they made to the proposed 2020 national budget following his allegations that billions-worth of “pork” funds were “parked” in the budget bill.

Lacson said such a show of transparency would dispel suspicions that the amendments are stained with “pork barrel” funds.

“We should make everything public. That includes all amendments we submit, whether institutional or individual,” Lacson said in an interview on DZBB radio.

“Most if not all lawmakers have their own websites. Why not post their amendments there, for the public to scrutinize?” he added.

Lacson lamented that in previous years, some lawmakers submit their amendments to their respective finance or appropriations chairpersons without having them go through floor deliberations.

“Instead of having their amendments undergo scrutiny in-floor deliberations, some lawmakers propose their amendments verbally, or even scribble them on napkins,” he said.

The lawmaker said that during Congress’ deliberation on the 2019 budget, he used his website to post his proposed institutional changes.

Institutional amendments pertain to programs and projects that have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from concerned implementing agencies.

Lacson said such institutional amendments are proposed by lawmakers who find merit in them after vetting with relevant agencies.

Individual amendments, meanwhile, pertain to projects based mainly on lawmakers’ intervention and are considered legislators’ pet projects.

“In most cases, these do not involve consultations with the implementing agencies concerned, nor are they part of the Local Development Plans of the Local Government Units,” Lacson said.

He added that such programs can be considered pork barrel, based on the 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court that deems as unconstitutional projects that are “whimsical and arbitrary.”

The 2013 Supreme Court ruling declaring pork barrel as unconstitutional covers “all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

In pushing for transparency in the national budget, Lacson said people have the right to know where their taxes are going, especially amid the country’s growing debt that now stands at more than P7.9 trillion.

“The national budget involves the people’s money. It should benefit the people and not a few senators or congressmen or even government officials who implement projects. And the budget is funded by our taxes, as well as borrowings if our tax collections fall short,” he said.

READ: Sen. Lacson urged to identify questionable P20-B in proposed 2020 national budget

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