This is in connection with the column of Mr. Gary Olivar in the ManilaStandard's Feb. 13, 2019 edition, where he made innuendos and personal attacks against Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson.
We seek the opportunity to set the record straight, to disabuse your readers and the public of such misleading notions by the former deputy presidential spokesman. Please allow us to address first Mr. Olivar's obvious confusion regarding institutional amendments (not institutional insertions, as he so claims) in the national budget.
Institutional amendments—such as those Sen. Lacson had proposed in the 2019 national budget—are based on need, planning and vetting, and seek to benefit sectors including education, the environment and national security. They are based on requests by the concerned implementing agencies, which have the plans to implement the programs but lack the funds to do so.
These contrast with individual amendments such as flood control projects and various structures based on lawmakers’ personal “intervention” and, in most cases, had no consultations with the implementing agencies concerned. Such individual amendments can be considered pork barrel, based on the 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court that covers whimsical and arbitrary projects.
For the sake of transparency, Sen. Lacson has made available the list of his institutional amendments on his website, which may be accessed at: https:// pinglacson.net/2019/01/28/at-a-glanceinstitutional-amendments-proposed-bysen-lacson-in-the-2019-budget/
Also, Sen. Lacson, in doing his job of scrutinizing the budget, bases his statements on facts—in this case, official documents. Such documents include the voluminous General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the version approved by the House of Representatives under Speaker Arroyo’s leadership, which was transmitted to the Senate.
In studying the budget, Sen. Lacson questioned not only the ballooning of allocations for infrastructure in some legislative districts, but also the Tulong Dunong program where lawmakers distribute checks to their chosen scholars, even when the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (Free Tuition) Act had already been passed. Both cases are tantamount to grave abuse of discretion, which is covered in the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court outlawing pork barrel.
He also questioned the removal of the Unified Accounts Code Structure (UACS)—a system that facilitates the tracking of items for funding in the budget—in the House-approved version of the proposed 2019 budget.
Trabaho lang, walang personalan.
It is therefore quite pathetic that Mr. Olivar, instead of helping his former boss clear up the issue of pork in the 2019 budget, chose the path of his fellow talking heads by hurling personal innuendos at the Senator to muddle the issue.
And as Sen. Lacson has already made clear he has made peace with Mrs. Arroyo and that he has forgiven those who wronged him, it is ludicrous for Mr. Olivar to make—or recycle—such wild attacks in his column.
Personalan na, trabahong tamad pa.
We hope this clarifies matters. Thank you very much.
Media Relations Officer
Office of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson