It said such changes include “institutional” amendments arising from budget requests from different agencies, and individual amendments and realignments by lawmakers, such as various new infrastructure projects, farm-to-market roads and financial assistance to local government units.
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Bare ‘pork barrel’ insertions, group tells lawmakers
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines yesterday urged senators and congressmen to reveal the changes they have made in President Duterte’s proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year.

It said such changes include “institutional” amendments arising from budget requests from different agencies, and individual amendments and realignments by lawmakers, such as various new infrastructure projects, farm-to-market roads and financial assistance to local government units. 

“We challenge all legislators who have sponsored amendments in the House of Representatives, Senate and bicameral conference levels to follow Senators (Panfilo) Lacson’s and (Franklin) Drilon’s lead,” the group said.

It said Lacson posted online the list of changes he proposed, while Drilon revealed his proposals before the Senate plenary.

“This way, citizens would have the opportunity to know and hold accountable legislators who will prioritize national interest and those who will prioritize their own personal, vested interests as far as the national budget is concerned,” Social Watch stressed.

It also urged Congress to speed up its submission of the proposed budget to the President for his signature.

It noted that Malacañang expects to receive the spending bill on March 1.

According to a matrix that House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. of Camarines Sur has given to the media, senators and congressmen would share nearly P99 billion in pork barrel funds this year.

The document shows that insertions amounting to P23.9 billion belong to the House, while P49.6 billion is credited to the Senate. The conference committee had its own realignments amounting to P25.2 billion, for a total of P98.7 billion.

Andaya and his Senate counterpart Loren Legarda jointly chaired the budget conference. 

If the bicam insertions are to be split equally, senators will share P62.2 billion or 63 percent of the P99-billion “pizza pie,” as Lacson calls the pork barrel, while the 291 House members will have P36.5 billion or 37 percent to divide among themselves.

Bicam amendments are usually considered as common funds.

The congressional pork barrel used to be known as Priority Development Assistance Fund before the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in November 2013.

It had an annual appropriation of P25 billion. Each senator was allocated P200 million, while each House member was given P70 million for the lawmaker’s district.

The pork barrel held only P2.5 billion during the time of the late president Corazon Aquino.

The P99-billion “pork” was funded out of the controversial P75-billion Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “insertion” in the 2019 funding for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and reductions taken from other agencies or lump-sum appropriations.

The entire P75 billion has been realigned, though P46.4 billion of it was retained with the DPWH no longer as a DBM insertion but as part of the lawmakers’ pork barrel.

Of the P46.4 billion, the congressmen’s share amounts to P20.7 billion, while senators have P25.4 billion and the bicam has P274 million.

Billions in additional realignments were given to other agencies where pork barrel funds are usually hidden.

NATIONAL BUDGET PORK BARREL SOCIAL WATCH PHILIPPINES
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