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Solons deny Sen. Lacson’s allegation of ‘pork barrel’ in 2019 Nat’l budget

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Sen. Panfilo Lacson

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The House Committee on Appropriations strongly denied that there had been billions of pesos worth of insertions for two congressmen’s pet projects in the proposed 2019 National Budget as accused by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Specifically, Lacson mentioned a more than P2-billion additional fund intended for the second district of Pampanga.

Though Lacson did not name the involved lawmaker, he was clearly pointing at House Speaker Gloria Arroyo’s district in Pampanga.

But Acting Committee Chair Maria Carmen Zamora stressed that they only provided P1.9-billion, not P2.2-billion, to Arroyo.

“I don’t see any Congress person na may ganoon kalaking increase. I don’t agree na nabuhusan ng proyekto ang distrito ng Pampanga,” Zamora said.

But according to Makabayan bloc, budget insertions are common among lawmakers which they divide among their local officials. In fact, according to ACT Teachers Party list Rep. Antonio Tinio, insertions as such are more massive among the senators.

“Hindi lang sa Kongreso o House of Representatives nangyayari iyan. Sa Senate din ang mas malaki pa nga na mga insertions,” he alleged.

But Zamora maintained that the budget allocations to each of the congressmen all depends on the needs of their respective districts.

“We make sure the reason is equitable distribution based on the needs ng ating mga distrito,” she said. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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Bikoy’s appearance may not guarantee a Senate hearing just yet – Lacson

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019

Peter Joemel Advincula, claiming to be “Bikoy” faces the members of the media
on May 6 at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday (May 6) said that there is no need yet for a Senate hearing even with the surfacing of the controversial man in the viral narco-videos calling himself “Bikoy”.

Lacson, Senate Committee Chair on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said Bikoy still needs to back his claims with strong evidence, especially so when he is linking no less than the family of President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drugs trade.

“As far as the Senate, we will await his sworn statement and whatever supporting evidence he has, after which we will evaluate and proceed from there. If it merits a Senate inquiry, we definitely will conduct one to hear him and more, if any,” Senator Lacson said in a statement following Peter Joemel Advincula a.k.a. Bikoy’s press briefing at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Advincula claimed he went to the IBP to seek legal assistance.

READ: Man claiming to be Bikoy asks help from IBP

The IBP said it has yet to evaluate alias Bikoy’s claim which led Lacson to be skeptical of the IBP’s position as it has already lent its facilities to Advincula so that he could hold a press briefing.

“First, I certainly hope the Integrated Bar of the Philippines will give the same amount of attention and assistance to anybody seeking legal assistance. Otherwise, they might be misunderstood as engaging in political partisanship, which could punch a hole and deflate their credibility,” the senator said.

 “By their admission, they haven’t evaluated Bikoy’s accusations, yet they provided him their facility and a forum to air his accusations,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its statement said the appearance of Advincula is an “opportunity to substantiate his serious accusations and convince the Filipino people that he is worth listening to.”

“If at all the person who surfaced today is the authentic “Bikoy” who is the subject of an ongoing investigation, good for him because he just spared himself the trouble of having to hide behind the cloak of anonymity any further,” the PNP statement read.

 “Otherwise, he is just wasting our time with his fantastic tale. At any rate, he still has a lot of explaining to do for his actions and the real motive behind it,” it added.

The PNP vows to continue its investigation and validate the identity of Advincula based on strong evidence. – Marje Pelayo

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Malacanang details vetoed line items in 2019 budget

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the 2019 General Appropriations Act at the Malacañan Palace on April 15, 2019. (King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

Malacanang has released the details of the line items in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

This, after the Chief Executive signed the Republic Act 11260 or the P3.757 Trillion General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on Tuesday, April 16.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President did not approve the last-minute insertions made by the House of Representatives in the national budget.

The vetoed provision of the budget are the line items under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects worth P95.374 billion, which Malacanang said violates the constitution.

The Palace pointed out that such projects are not in the priority program of the Duterte Administration.

“Those are the so-called insertions/ riders. They are not part of the program by the DPWH; hence, it violates the constitution. It’s violative of the constitution,” Panelo said.

Read: Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

Senator Panfilo Lacson has earlier disclosed that last minute realignments had been made in the budget for the benefit of several lawmakers who are allies of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Sec. Panelo reiterated what he calls as a very clear message by the President in signing the national budget.

“The message is you always follow the constitution. Any deviation from the constitution will not be approved by the President or will not be tolerated,” said Panelo.

Aside from the vetoed items, other provisions in the national budget shall be subjected to “conditional implementation in order to ensure conformity with existing laws, rules and regulations.”

Among them are the allowance and benefits of teachers and creation of teaching positions, construction of evacuation centers, funding for foreign-assisted projects, revolving fund, and lump-sum appropriations for capital outlays, as well as financial assistance to local government units and funding requirements of the country’s foreign service.  – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte signs P3.7-T national budget for 2019

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Courtesy: Presidential Photo)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the
P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019, Malacañang said on Monday.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed this in a text message sent to reporters.

Medialdea said Duterte signed the budget on April 15 but vetoed parts of the bill.

“The President, among others, vetoed P95.3 billion items of appropriations in the details of DPWH programs/projects, which are not within the programmed priorities,” Medialdea said.

Duterte signed the long-delayed budget without holding a ceremonial signing. Malacañang earlier said the scheduled signing of the 2019 spending program may be pushed back until after the Lenten season, pending the President’s review.

READ: Palace: Duterte may sign 2019 budget after Lenten break

Duterte earlier threatened to veto the entire budget if it is found problematic.

READ: Duterte threatens to veto 2019  national budget if found problematic

The government has been running on a reenacted budget since January after the Congress failed to pass the proposed 2019 spending program on time.

The 2019 General Appropriations Act was transmitted to the Office of the President after it was ratified by the House of Representatives and Senate in February.

However, its enactment was delayed due to alleged “unconstitutional” realignments that prompted Senate President Vicente Sotto III to sign the budget with “strong reservations” in late March.

Sotto and other senators had previously questioned the P75-billion worth of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that were allegedly inserted by the lower house after the bill was ratified.

READ: Andaya hits Sotto’s “strong reservations” in signing 2019 budget bill 

But House members have maintained that the realignments were not illegal and, in turn, accused the Senate of snipping the budget for infrastructure projects.– Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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