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Congressmen ignore Lacson, move on from ‘parked pork barrel’ issue

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By Ben Rosario

Congressmen ignored rants from senators and worked 18 hours on the first day of the budget debates to make up for time lost to the P51.79-billion “parked pork barrel” controversy.

On a vote of 261 to 18, the Senate and the House of Representatives decide to extend martial law in Mindanao up to December 31, 2017 in a joint, special session at the Batasang Pambansa yesterday. Inset photo shows Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III (left) and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez presiding over the session that lasted more than seven hours. (Jansen Romero, Alvin Kasiban)

House of the Representatives (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Leaders of the majority and minority blocs in the House of Representatives said they are determined to put House Bill 8169, the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), up for approval on second reading before the adjournment on October 12.

Senator Panfilo Lacson was given a cold shoulder by congressmen in the wake of his public accusations that congressmen raised a feud over pork barrel insertions.

House members no longer responded to Lacson’s allegations about the supposed P51.79-billion insertions.

Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., together with Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro (NUP, Capiz), claimed to have resolved the ruckus triggered by the so-called parked pork barrel.

After two days of cancellation of the launch of the budget debates, the two leaders, clearly with the consent of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, moved to constitute the Lower House into a Committee of the Whole for the purpose of amending the Committee on Appropriations report on the budget measure.

In the amended report, the Committee of the Whole agreed to reallocate the P51.79 billion discovered to be stashed in the infrastructure allocations of favored congressional districts.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, appropriations panel chairman, was blamed for the alleged lump sum insertions even as he insisted on reporting the original committee report that was later on amended.

As of yesterday, Nograles was still nowhere to be found in the Lower House.

“We’re off to a good a start. First day of budget debates was long but productive,” said Andaya.

Budget defense was successful for the Department of Agrariran Reform, Detpartment of Trade and Industry, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare Development, Office of the Ombudsman.

Andaya stressed that “debate was never curtailed” during the budget deliberations.

Plenary debates on the budget measure continued yesterday.

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