THE P3.35-trillion proposed budget presented by Malacañang to the Senate for congressional approval is laden with “pork” and violated the Supreme Court rulings on the Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.
In an interview with reporters after attending the Department of Finance presentation of next year’s budget to the Senate, Lacson said the “submission” of congressmen of projects amounting to P80 million to the Department of Budget and Management as admitted by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno countered the Supreme Court rulings.
He related that a congressman gave him a copy of the pro-forma list of projects, programs and activities.
“There is pork. It’s clear. Legislators should not intervene, they should not intervene in the preparation of the [National Expenditures Program] in crafting national budget,” he said.
“It’s as if we are returning to PDAF. Why did the congressmen identify projects? They will oversee them. They are the ones who know where to allocate the funds,” he said.
He blasted as “distorted the budgeting process because there’s the so-called local development council that should take care of the priority needs of LGUs prior to the budget call called by the DBM.
He said the budget call was made during first quarter and then March-April with the entry of the 2nd quarter.
He also cited conflict of interest and the principle of non-delegability of powers that was invested in Congress as a body and as an institution.
“And Congress as a body cannot anymore delegate to individual congressmen that power because it as already delegated to whole body. What is delegated cannot be anymore delegated,” he said.
Lacson, who refused to receive his pork barrel during his stint as member of the Senate, said no senator made a submission to the DBM.
But the senator said the pork he sees in next year’s capital outlay can be addressed through amendments and floor deliberations.
Asked on what should be done with the P80-million projects from the congressmen, Lacson said it should be scrapped and should be reappropriated to other agencies so legislators will not interfere in the function of the executive. It should be stopped.
But Diokno said the P80 million cannot be considered “pork barrel” since the budget has not yet been passed.
Finance Committee chairman Senator Loren Legarda expressed support to the administration’s major thrusts in the national budget and said that the Senate will work on ensuring that the people’s money will flow back to them through programs that are beneficial to all.
“The Senate, particularly the Committee on Finance, will work closely with the country’s economic managers and all our government agencies, and consider our constituents’ concerns to ensure that the national budget for 2017 will indeed be ‘a budget for real change’,” Legarda said.
“We support the administration’s main thrusts to prioritize and improve education, ensure that more citizens have access to quality and efficient social services, and increase public spending in terms of infrastructure,” she added.