With a heavy heart and much hesitation, I am voting against the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the 2017 national budget.
I do so for various reasons, the most compelling of which is the continuing presence of pork barrel allocations in the 2017 general appropriations bill yet to be enrolled for the President’s approval.
Save for the P3.6 billion that still remains in the DPWH budget and divided among the 8 legislative districts of the ARMM, after we transferred the P8.3 billion to the SUCs, I need not provide the details of the other pork allocations.
Suffice it to say, Mr. President, I know pork when I see it; when I hear about it; even when I smell it – in the lounge, right in my office, and elsewhere, during informal discussions and casual conversations with some of our colleagues and congressmen even.
Please rest be assured I do not intend to be indifferent, or be different, nor am I being contumacious in this regard. Having said that, I have long been unflinching in this fight, advocacy if you will, against pork in the budget since I earned the title the Honorable Senator from Cavite and the Republic of the Philippines.
There is no saying here, Mr. President, that I am not grateful to the Chairperson of the Finance Committee, Sen. Legarda, not only for adopting most if not all of my institutional amendments, but for standing firm on those amendments as if it were her own during the bicameral discussions with the House panel. I wish to thank her for the additional P770 million chalk allowance for the more than 700,000 public school teachers. (It may look big, Mr. President, but this amount translates to a mere P83 per teacher per month in additional chalk allowance); the P233 million added to the CHR’s budget; P686 million to PDEA; P545 million to the airlift capability of the PNP; P2.8 billion to the DND/AFP, to mention some of them.
Lastly, this early, I am begging your indulgence that come October or at the onset of the fourth quarter of 2017, I will be as persistent and passionately engaged in the scrutiny of the 2018 General Appropriations Bill once the same is transmitted to this chamber for deliberation.
If I may reiterate, I vote no to the ratification of the bicam report.