By Mario Casayuran
To have an impact on the lives of the Filipino people, the Duterte administration must minimize wastage in hard-earned resources by getting rid of the graft-ridden pork barrel system among lawmakers.
Sen. Panfilo M.Lacson said the President should use his influence to force Congress leaders to adhere to the existing jurisprudence outlawing pork barrel “which is still evident among selected members of Congress.’’
A few members of Congress enjoy as high as nine-figure insertions during the last two budget years under the Duterte administration, he said.
There is no definite figure on the value of pork barrel projects that some members of the Senate and the House of Representatives enjoy but sources “it is substantial.”
Lacson had pointed out several pork barrel appropriations in the General Appropriations Act of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
However, Congress leaders and finance or appropriation committee chairmen – Sen. Loren Legarda and Rep. KarloNoprales – have denied the existence of pork barrel appropriations in the national budget.
This is one of the issues President Duterte should resolve, Lacson said after making a critical assessment of the President’s first two years in office.
The Duterte administration begins its third year in Malacañang with President Duterte delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
On the illegal drugs problem, Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief during the Estrada administration, is not impressed by the anti-illegal drug campaign of President Duterte.
“Even during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he (Duterte) persistently pitched for a six-month deadline to solve the drug problem in the country, I already pointed out it was impossible,” Lacson said.
“It remains as impossible as saying he can stop crime,” he added.
“After two years, it may be wise and prudent for his top advisers to go back to the drawing board and reassess what they did wrong and what they are doing right, not only in the fight against crime and corruption, which is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration’s deliverables, but in the economic sector as well,” he stressed.
Lacson pointed out that the peace-and-order strategy is long on crime suppression and short on prevention.
“It should be the other way around. We prevent crimes, and those that cannot be prevented from being committed must be suppressed with solid solution through efficient investigative work and techniques,” he said.
On the revenue side, Lacson said the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law needs to be revisited and amended.
“The President, with all his strong influence over Congress, must put his foot down on vested interests of some members of both Houses,’’ he said.
Opposition Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV had said the TRAIN law is a big burden to the Filipino people, particularly the poor and thus should be amended or scrapped altogether.