From Malaya: Two leaders of the House of Representatives nearly came to blows during a heated debate over money and pork last Monday. This was how Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the indefatigable opponent of the pork barrel, described what happened in the lower chamber when the congressmen were discussing, or fighting over, the national budget measure.
Quarrel over money
September 20, 2018
Two leaders of the House of Representatives nearly came to blows during a heated debate over money and pork last Monday.
This was how Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the indefatigable opponent of the pork barrel, described what happened in the lower chamber when the congressmen were discussing, or fighting over, the national budget measure.
Specifically, on the table then was the controversial realignment of some P51.792 billion allocation from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to other programs and agencies.
This huge chunk of funds intended for regional infrastructure projects was realigned to programs under the Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and other programs of the DPWH, as well as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management fund.
Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., House majority leader, sponsored the controversial committee report that juggled the DPWH funds to finance the construction of tech-voc laboratories, farm-to-market roads, capital outlays for state colleges and universities, human resources for health deployment, health facilities enhancement program, construction of access roads leading to specific tourist destinations; and trades, industries, economic zones and livelihood centers, roads and bridges to decongest traffic and for disaster risk reduction.
This embarrassing episode would not have occurred had the House members retained Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker.
Clearly, those projects had been proposed and identified by lawmakers and promised by Alvarez to them during his time, but now that he is no longer Speaker, he could not deliver on his promise.
Supporters of Alvarez would lose their projects while the lawmakers in the camp of Arroyo will enjoy the booty. This is the reality in congressional politics and Senator Lacson is too old and experienced in this game not to notice.
Malacanang’s ES Salvador Medialdea and House minority leader Rep. Danilo Suarez both claimed there is no pork barrel or insertion in the national budget, but this is belied by Lacson, pointing out that particular projects identified by congressmen, even if they are line items of particularized in the budget bill, take the form of pork that has been declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
These projects that became the bone of contention between two groups of representatives will be scrutinized thoroughly when the budget bill reaches the Senate, Lacson promised, adding that it will serve as a road map for him and other anti-pork senators.
Even if Mrs. Janet Napoles is in jail and Butch Abad and former President Noynoy Aquino are facing complaints (before) the Ombudsman, the culture of greed persists and the lure of millions of pesos lining the pockets of high officials is irresistible. For shame!