By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson served notice Tuesday that the proposed P3.757 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA or national budget) would be mangled to give way to the appropriation of pork barrel projects for congressmen in their respective legislative districts.
Lacson issued the statement following President Duterte’s policy statement concerning all congressmen’s earmarks for their respective districts.
This as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started preparations for the acceptance of certificates of candidacies for various national and local positions throughout the archipelago in the May 2019 mid-term elections.
‘’If not checked, we will be back to the happy ‘pork barrel’ days of legislators in spite of the Supreme Court ruling outlawing the same,’’ Lacson said.
Members of the Senate finance committee were briefed yesterday by government finance and economic managers on the National Expenditure Program (NEP). The NEP is the draft of the GAA.
‘’Worse, all the planning involved in the preparation of the national budget will be rendered inutile to the detriment of the medium development plan of the national government, as well as the local development plans submitted by the local government units (LGUs),’’ he stressed.
Lacson expressed hopes that some like-minded colleagues in the Senate would also work overtime, as I am determined to do, in scrutinizing the House version of the appropriations bill.’’
This exercise is meant ‘’to expose and slice whatever “pork” there is in whatever form and no matter how deeply hidden, with the end in view of preventing the return of this malevolent practice now declared unconstitutional with finality by the Supreme Court,’’ he added.
The House of Representatives, based on the 1987 Constitution, has the right to look and act on money bills first before it transmits its approved version to the Senate.
Lacson has time and again disclosed ‘’pork barrel’’ appropriations hidden in the GAA but has been rebuffed by his colleagues, particularly the head of the Senate and House finance or appropriations committees.