Lacson: Proposed national budget for 2020 not pork-free

(Eagle News)–The proposed national budget for 2020 is still not pork-free.

This is according to Senator Panfilo Lacson, who issued a statement only minutes after the bicameral conference committee approved the report on the proposed P4.1-trillion budget at the Manila Polo Club in Makati.

Lacson, who did not attend the signing, said he based his statement on two files contained in a USB drive which his office received last night.

He said the two files were the “Source” file and the “List” file.

He said the USB drive was from the House of Representatives through the Senate Legislative Budget Research.

“Our preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345B that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning,” Lacson said.

According to the senator, since there was “no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345B or the bigger amount of P83.219B was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing.”

“What is clear, though, is that there are still lump sums and vaguely described projects that are now part of the bicam report,” Lacson said.

The senator said the provinces with huge allocations were:

Albay: P670 million
Cavite: P580 million
Sorsogon: P570 million
Batangas: P502 million
Bulacan: P440 million
Pangasinan: P420 million
Cebu: P410 million

He added 117 flood control projects worth P3.179 billion dominate the insertions, with eight projects uniformly budgeted at P60 million each.

“There are more corruption-driven insertions in the Files sent to us that I have not mentioned….It is revolting to note that legislators keep on dipping their dirty fingers on our national budget in spite of pending cases involving the same issue,” Lacson said.

The senator expressed hope the  President would again “exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money.”

“Thus, we will continue to diligently scrutinize it and inform the (Department of Budget and Management) and the Office of the President as I have high hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will again display his aversion to corruption,” Lacson said.