Sources in the House of Representatives told The STAR yesterday that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had asked lawmakers as early as last month to submit their list of projects for their districts and constituencies.
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P35-B ‘pork’ to be embedded in 2020 budget
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Some P35.2 billion in pork barrel funds of senators and congressmen will be embedded in the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget Malacañang is set to submit to Congress next week.

Sources in the House of Representatives told The STAR yesterday that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had asked lawmakers as early as last month to submit their list of projects for their districts and constituencies.

The listings will already be included in President Duterte’s budget proposal, officially called national expenditure program, when the Palace submits it to the House and the Senate, they said.

“The allocation is still P100 million for every House member and P200 million for each senator,” one lawmaker said.

Of a congressman’s allotment, he said P70 million is for “hard” or infrastructure projects like multipurpose buildings and road construction, while P30 million is for “soft” programs like medical and educational assistance.

In the case of a senator’s P200 million “pork,” he said P100 million is for “hard” and P100 million for “soft” projects.

Computed at 305 members, allocations for the House will amount to P30.5 billion, while for 24 senators, the allotments come up to P4.8 billion, for a total of P35.3 billion for all lawmakers.

The sources said the submission of the listings is the reason why the DBM decided to use its one-month constitutional deadline from the convening of Congress to present the Palace’s budget proposal.

“The DBM wanted to avoid last year’s ugly spectacle of lawmakers trading accusations on billions in alleged pork barrel insertions that led to the three-month delay in the enactment of this year’s national budget,” another congressman said.

He said the inclusion of the lawmakers’ projects in the President’s budget proposal “is actually good for us, members of Congress, since we will not be accused of inserting funds for our districts and constituents in the budget.”

“We could now avoid those accusations, provided we do not introduce major changes in the President’s budget,” he said.

He added that the DBM’s request for an advance submission of project details complies with the ruling of the Supreme Court outlawing the old Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the Senate and the House.

The congressman explained that under the ruling, lump-sum funds whose details are submitted after the enactment of the budget and project implementation intervention by lawmakers are prohibited and unconstitutional.

“We will be compliant with the ruling as long as the listings are already in the enacted budget and we do not meddle with agencies in implementing our projects,” he stressed.

Several senators and congressmen are facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly pocketing billions in commissions and kickbacks from their PDAF-funded projects.

According to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and appropriations committee chairman Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, the DBM would present the proposed 2020 budget between Aug. 16 and 20. – With Edith Regalado

2020 NATIONAL BUDGET
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