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Lacson to seek SC help on budget ‘pork-like’ items
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he would personally go to the Supreme Court if the President does not veto “pork-like” items in the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017.
Lacson, who has vowed to rid the national budget of pork barrel funds, said the pork-like items in next year’s spending program would run to hundreds of millions of pesos and some were “craftily hidden in many agencies.”
Lacson earlier caused some P8.3 billion in pork-like funds removed from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for certain projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Lacson claimed it would be a violation of the Organic Act of the ARMM and could be considered “pork,” since it was the eight ARMM congressmen who had named the projects.
“I want to see this as a test, as far as I’m concerned, to the political will of the President. He is always saying that corruption must stop and this is the best test… to show that he is against corruption,” Lacson said.
During the Senate’s budget deliberations, Lacson said there were more pork-like funds in the 2017 general appropriations bill on top of the P8.3 billion lodged in the DPWH budget.
These, he said, include P3.6 billion for projects within the ARMM and P500 million for feasibility study and engineering design, on top of a P5.9-billion budget for an item with exactly the same description in the DPWH budget.
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Lacson said there were also 45 recurring items worth P10 million each, which the DPWH said were for “augmentation of unclear items.”
According to Lacson, these pork-like items in the national budget could be questioned before the Supreme Court, since the pork barrel funds have been declared unconstitutional.
“Any taxpayer (can go to the Supreme Court) and I’m a taxpayer and I intend to question some of the provisions in the national budget for 2017,” Lacson said.
“The PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) has been declared unconstitutional since 2013. But the point is when will we ever learn? Many have been charged and many more will be charged,” he added.
Lacson said Malacañang is partly to blame for the continued presence of the pork barrel system in the national budget.
He recalled seeing the document prepared by the Department of Budget and Management for the legislators to identify their respective projects before the 2017 national expenditure program was submitted to Congress. – With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero, Janvic Mateo