In this Nov. 21, 2019 photo, Sen. Panfilo Lacson answers questions from reporters concerning the 2020 national budget at the Kapihan sa Senado forum.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal
'Pork is here to stay': Lacson claims last-minute insertions in 2020 budget
( - December 11, 2019 - 3:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed that the proposed 2020 national budget that the bicameral conference signed is full of last-minute insertions.

The bicameral conference committee of senators and congressmen approved the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget Wednesday morning.

Lacson, however, did not sign the bicameral report after receiving a flash drive with two files — the "source" file with a list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219 billion and the "list" file with 742 projects worth P16.345 billion inserted in the report.

"Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345 [billion] or the bigger amount of P83.219 [billion] was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing" Lacson said in a statement.

The senator pointed out that the bicameral report contains lump sums and vaguely described projects.

He also noted the huge allocations in the provinces of Albay (P670 million), Cavite (P580 million), Sorsogon (P570 million), Batangas (P502 million), Bulacan (P440 million), Pangasinan (P420 million) and Cebu (P410 million).

A total of 117 flood control projects worth P3.179 billion dominated the insertions, eight of which are uniformly budgeted at P60 million each, according to Lacson, adding that there are more "corruption-driven" insertions in the files they received.

Lacson said he would inform the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President on the insertions while his team continues to scrutinize the proposed budget.

"Pork is here to stay. I hope the president will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people's tax money," Lacson said.

As of writing time, the House of Representatives has voted to ratify the bicameral conference report approving the proposed budget for next year. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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