Days of fund ‘parking’ over, ‘pork’ a thing of the past — Speaker  » Manila Bulletin News

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Days of fund ‘parking’ over, ‘pork’ a thing of the past — Speaker 

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By Ellson Quismorio and Genalyn Kabiling

The House of Representatives won’t allow the “parking” of dubious funds in the proposed 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP), Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Tuesday.

“The parking of funds, the way I understand it, it’s a form of corruption,” Cayetano told House reporters during the ceremonial submission of the P4.1-trillion NEP or the proposed national budget for 2020 by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Lower Chamber.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano   (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano
(KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Dito sa budget na ito (In this budget), we will not allow any parking,” said the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker.

Cayetano, who is on his first term in the House in 12 years, distanced himself from past budgets smeared with the fund parking controversy.

“I cannot speak about the past budgets, wala akong personal knowledge doon (I have no personal knowledge about those).”

The previous DBM leadership had been accused of “parking” or inserting billions worth of public funds in different areas of the budget, with the purpose of such funds being unclear at best.

These included insertions worth P54 billion under flood mitigation projects in the 2018 budget and P75 billion under the Department of Public Works and Highways’s (DPWH) allocation in the 2019 budget.

The parked funds have been likened by critics to “pork barrel,” the discretionary nature of which makes them prone to corruption and misuse. Lawmakers’ discretionary funds were declared illegal by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2014, it can be recalled.

Thing of the past 

“Ang usapan sa Congress, we will fight corruption…sa 18th Congress, walang takipan (What has been agreed upon in the 18th Congress is that we will fight corruption…no cover ups),” the Speaker stressed.

“Pork barrel is a thing of the past,” Cayetano further said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang is hopeful for the timely passage of the proposed 2020 national budget to ensure uninterrupted funding for key government programs.

“We can always hope that it will pass on time. Any delay will affect our economy. I’m sure the members of Congress know that,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“We are always hopeful whether Congress is dominated by allies of the President or not, because after all, as we said repeatedly, members of Congress should know what is good for the Filipino people being representatives of them,” he added.

Majority Floor Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez echoed this, saying that the House leadership is committed to pass a “constitutionally compliant” national budget for year 2020.

“We will comply with the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed any form of pork barrel. Definitely, the pork barrel system is a thing of the past. (The) line item budgeting system will be strictly observed to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of public funds,” said the Visayan said in a statement.

“We also commend the President’s commitment through acting Budget Sec. [Wendel] Avisado to ensure an equitable and corruption-free distribution of government resources to further propel the economy,” Romualdez added.

Avisado, who was also present during the ceremony, guaranteed that there were no parked funds in the 2020 NEP and that every centavo already has an identified purpose.

“Yung sinasabing naka-park, naka-park in the sense na ginagamit kung saan, hindi po. Dito po sa budget na ito, identified po lahat yan. Maliwanag po kung saan mapupunta yung P4.1 trillion,” he said, responding to a reporter’s query.

(The alleged parking of funds that are used for whatever purpose, we don’t have that. We’ve identified all the projects in this budget. It’s clear where the P4.1 trillion will go.)

P400M worth of infra projects 

Regarding the House members’ infrastructure projects for their respective districts–considered to be their bread and butter–Cayetano said Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar has vowed to give the solons no less than P400 million worth of projects to work with.

“So what I meant by equitable na yung distribution? Noong kausap namin si Sec. Mark Villar, sabi niya, he will try na walang distrito all around the country na less than P400 million to 500 million yung infrastructure (When we spoke with Sec. Mark Villar, he said that he will see to no district in the country will have less than P400 million to P500 million for infrastructure),” he said.

“It’s already in the budget. Ang sinasabi ko, wala nang pork barrel, ang departmento na ang naglalagay (What I’m saying is there no more pork barrel, it’s the department that identifies these projects).”

However, these infrastructure project must fall under the national priority for them to be considered, the Speaker said. “Kasi itong mga roads, bridges, flood control ay ginagawa niyang integrated (Sec. Villar is integrating these roads, bridges, and flood control projects together)…the projects have to connect.”

Cayetano said he and his House colleagues will find out whether or not their project requests and proposals were granted by the different agencies only after the DBM’s submission of the NEP.

“I was assured by the DBM secretary and the individual secretaries that they did their best to be equitable for the entire country,” he concluded.

Cayetano said the House won’t allow the “parking” of dubious funds in the NEP.

“The parking of funds, the way I understand it, it’s a form of corruption,” Cayetano told House reporters during the ceremonial submission of the proposed 2020 national budget.

“Dito sa budget na ito (In this budget), we will not allow any parking,” said the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker.

Cayetano, who is on his first term in the House distanced himself from past budgets smeared with the fund parking controversy.

“I cannot speak about the past budgets, wala akong personal knowledge doon (I have no personal knowledge about those).”

The previous DBM leadership had been accused of “parking” or inserting billions worth of public funds in different areas of the budget, with the purpose of such funds being unclear at best.

These included insertions worth P54 billion under flood mitigation projects in the 2018 budget and P75 billion under the Department of Public Works and Highwayss (DPWH) allocation in the 2019 budget.

The parked funds have been likened by critics to “pork barrel,” the discretionary nature of which makes them prone to corruption and misuse. Lawmakers’ discretionary funds were declared illegal by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2014.

“Pork barrel is a thing of the past,” Cayetano further said.

“We also commend the President’s commitment through acting Budget Sec. [Wendel] Avisado to ensure an equitable and corruption-free distribution of government resources to further propel the economy,” Romualdez added.

Avisado, who was also present during the ceremony, guaranteed that there were no parked funds in the 2020 NEP and that every centavo already has an identified purpose.

“Yung sinasabing naka-park, naka-park in the sense na ginagamit kung saan, hindi po. Dito po sa budget na ito, identified po lahat yan. Maliwanag po kung saan mapupunta yung P4.1 trillion (The alleged parking of funds that are used for whatever purpose, we don’t have that. We’ve identified all the projects in this budget. It’s clear where the P4.1 trillion will go),” he said, responding to a reporter’s query.

Thing of the past 

“Ang usapan sa Congress, we will fight corruption…sa 18th Congress, walang takipan (What has been agreed upon in the 18th Congress is that we will fight corruption…no cover ups),” the Speaker stressed.

Majority Floor Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez echoed this, saying that the House leadership is committed to pass a “constitutionally compliant” national budget for year 2020.

“We will comply with the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed any form of pork barrel. Definitely, the pork barrel system is a thing of the past. (The) line item budgeting system will be strictly observed to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of public funds,” said the Visayan said in a statement.

P400M worth of infra projects 

Regarding the House members’ infrastructure projects for their respective districts–considered to be their bread and butter–Cayetano said Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar has vowed to give the solons no less than P400 million worth of projects to work with.

“So what I meant by equitable na yung distribution? Noong kausap namin si Sec. Mark Villar, sabi niya, he will try na walang distrito all around the country na less than P400 million to 500 million yung infrastructure (When we spoke with Sec. Mark Villar, he said that he will see to no district in the country will have less than P400 million to P500 million for infrastructure),” he said.

“It’s already in the budget. Ang sinasabi ko, wala nang pork barrel, ang departmento na ang naglalagay (What I’m saying is there no more pork barrel, it’s the department that identifies these projects).”

However, these infrastructure project must fall under the national priority for them to be considered, the Speaker said. “Kasi itong mga roads, bridges, flood control ay ginagawa niyang integrated (Sec. Villar is integrating these roads, bridges, and flood control projects together)…the projects have to connect.”

Cayetano said he and his House colleagues will find out whether or not their project requests and proposals were granted by the different agencies only after the DBM’s submission of the NEP.

“I was assured by the DBM secretary and the individual secretaries that they did their best to be equitable for the entire country,” he concluded.

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