Interpellation of the 2019 national budget: “There is pork, there is pork, there is pork!”

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In his interpellation of the 2019 budget’s general principles, Sen. Lacson raised the issue of pork in the P3.7-trillion budget for 2019:
* Tulong Dunong
* P60 million per House member
* P1.54 billion for one House member; P1.69 billion for another

Related: At a Glance: Pork in the Proposed 2019 Budget
Quotes from the interpellation…

On Tulong Dunong:

“They are the ones determining who are the beneficiaries. Some legislators are even distributing the checks themselves… How could a legislator distribute checks to beneficiaries? This is very simple implementation of projects.”

“This is implementation (by lawmakers who endorse Tulong Dunong beneficiaries for scholarship grants). If this is not implementation, tell me what is, Mr. President.”

If it looks like pork, smells like pork, chopped like pork, then it must be pork.

“(Tulong Dunong is) a laudable project but the legislators have no business implementing the project because that is the exclusive domain or jurisdiction of the executive branch.”

“I will just make this argument na since the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or Free Tuition Law with a proposed 2019 budget of P43.308B had been passed by this Congress last year, hasn’t TD become redundant and become a duplication and should therefore be deleted or realigned? Realign na lang natin yan, augment na lang natin sa free tuition act na pinasa natin last year.”

“There are parameters (in the Free Tuition Act), at least hindi discretionary unlike TD which is discretionary. A congressman can just choose the daughter or son of one of his leaders and make him a beneficiary. Unlike CHED program under the tertiary education di ba may requirements, kailangan pumasa sa exam, enrolled na or about to enroll? Di ba mas maganda ang programa ngayon? And it (TD) is definitely a duplication, this is redundant.”

“Legislators are allowed under the TD program to implement projects which has been declared void in the SC ruling on Belgica vs Ochoa. Di na pwede mag-implement ang legislators.”

“(Tulong Dunong) cannot be an excuse to meet what the Constitution requires. Clearly… unconstitutional means do not justify even commendable ends. Let’s not talk about being laudable or commendable. It is in the Constitution. Whether it’s P1 or P3B it’s still pork if legislators are the ones implementing it.”

“I am not anti-poor; I was born to poor parents myself and I was able to study in public schools. But it is the Constitution. We might as well amend the Constitution to suit the needs for a program like TD and let the legislators implement projects in that regard.”

On the Budgeting Process:

“Pagdating sa Kongreso, insert sila ng insert kaya may disconnect. Kung kasama sila sa discussion and crafting ng local development plan, dapat naka-input na projects nila, with consultation or in collaboration with the Local Development Councils. Ayaw nila sumama because gusto nila mag-insert pagdating sa Congress.”

“If they attend the Local Development Councils and participate in the discussions they know more or less the needs and priorities.”

On P60M per House member in the 2019 budget:

“Even the Speaker of the House, sabi niya ‘we’re not going to give zero budget to anybody even those who don’t like me’ … as a gesture of goodwill, as if it’s their money. Namimigay ng P60M as a gesture of goodwill. Is that their money Mr. President?”

“If Congress realigned the funds earlier vetted by DBCC, DPWH, by the agencies themselves, isn’t that tantamount to grave abuse of discretion?”

On the insertions for 2 House members in the 2019 budget:

“Initially doon sa NEP and approved on 2nd reading last Oct 3, 1 congressman meron nang P360.4M, One congresswoman P726.710M. Now after Oct 3 and before approving on third reading nagdagdag silang dalawa. Isa P1.545B, si babae nagdagdag P1.698109B, ang total nila under GAB2 we received as transmitted: the congressman has P1.9B, the congresswoman has P2.4B. Now my question is, is this pork or not? IS THAT PORK OR PORK?”

On the removal of the fund tracking system in the House version of the budget:

“Madali i-track sana kung di inalis ang Unified Accounts Code Structure. Sa DBM yan. When they submit the NEP to the HOR pag ginawa nila GAB-1 which should be a faithful reproduction of NEP, tinatanggal nila yan. UACS ang mag-track saan pupunta ang pondo. Why would they deliberately remove the UACS present sa NEP, pagdating sa atin tanggal na?”

“That’s why I keep insisting there is pork, there is pork, there is pork.”