By Ben Rosario
After the so-called “pork parking” last year, now comes the “hanging pork” that is now tainting the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
Hanging pork barrel has been likened to the controversial P52-billion pork barrel parking that resulted in the delay in the approval by Congress of the 2019 national budget.
“Parked pork barrel” funds were allocations for infrastructure projects that were surreptitiously included in the budget of various congressional districts, usually without the knowledge of the congressman representing them.
The hanging pork barrel was raised Tuesday by Gabriela Women’s Party as the Lower House launched plenary deliberations for the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas claimed that she has found a P1.79-billion discrepancy in the 2020 allocation of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
She described the discrepancy as part of the “hanging pork” fund that was “infused in the 2020 DPWH budget that was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations.
Brosas said the discrepancy can be found in the breakdown of the agency’s allocations per region compared to the total DPWH regional allocation.
“The P1.79 billion discrepancy in the DPWH budget, which is much bigger than the lotto jackpot, points to the persistence of pork funds. This shows that the 2020 budget is not only infused with questionable confidential and intelligence funds but also filled with billions of ‘hanging pork’ insertions intended to satisfy the corrupt craving of Duterte’s allies,” she said.
Brosas stressed that the nearly two-billion pesos discrepancy “cannot be dismissed as a clerical error because the inconsistencies of the data provided in the 2020 National Expenditure Program is also reflected in the GAB.”
“This P1.79-billion ‘hanging pork’ could’ve been enough to build public hospitals, schools, and decent housing for the poor. But the DBM left it without any item under DPWH at the pleasure of the agency,” she said.
Brosas aired suspicion that the discrepancy was connected to the attempt made by Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte to withdraw the budget bill last week.
“As the House of Representatives moves forward to the budget plenary debates, we call on the public to be more vigilant in keeping an eye on the persistence of pork barrel funds in various forms in the national budget,” she stated.
Brosas said the Makabayan progressive bloc will closely examine the budget bill to determine other discrepancies hidden in its provisions.