If the “pork” in Pampanga and Camarines Sur worth some P4.3 billion stemmed from a “misplaced gesture of generosity,” the beneficiaries can show good faith by declining such amounts, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson issued the advice after House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the allocations were a show of “misplaced generosity” to public works regional directors seeking funding for road and flood control projects.
“Since Majority Leader Andaya claims that the huge earmarks for his and (Speaker Gloria) Arroyo’s districts are a case of ‘misplaced gesture of generosity,’ maybe they can display a ‘genuine gesture of good faith’ by deleting or reducing those humongous allocations,” Lacson said on his Twitter account.
On Wednesday, Lacson bared a congressman got at least P1.9 billion in congressional insertions while a congresswoman got P2.4 billion.
Figures from the General Appropriations Bill 2 – the House version of the national budget bill – showed P2.4 billion worth of projects are in Pampanga’s second district while P1.9 billion in projects are in Camarines Sur.
These amounts are aside from the P60 million each House member got for his or her pet projects.
Andaya represents the first district of Camarines Sur, while Speaker Arroyo represents the second district of Pampanga.
But Andaya was quoted as saying the House Appropriations Committee was behind the P4.3 billion “pork” in the House version of the proposed P3.7-trillion budget for 2019.
He added he did not seek added funding for road projects in his district, and even asked the House appropriations committee not to make insertions without notifying the Senate.
The committee, however, showed “misplaced generosity” and accommodated requests by regional directors of the Department of Public Works and Highways for road projects in Camarines Sur and flood control projects in Pampanga, Andaya was quoted as saying.
But Lacson said that if the appropriations committee disobeyed orders from the House leadership, the beneficiaries should return the amounts.
“Sila ang mga leaders ng House of Representatives. Kung hindi sinunod ang bilin nila, isauli nila,” he said in an interview with DZBB radio.
On the other hand, Lacson said regional directors and district engineers do not have the authority to seek funding amounting to billions of pesos.
He said district engineers can seek funding of up to P100 million, while regional directors do not course their requests to the House but to the DPWH Secretary.
In turn, the DPWH Secretary will forward their requests to the House or Senate.
Nevertheless, when Lacson asked DPWH Secretary Mark Villar during the agency’s budget hearing last Nov. 12 if the realignments made by the new House leadership was coordinated with them before their P51.792-billion budget was slashed, Villar said no consultation was made.
“Sabi ko, nakonsulta ba kayo rito? Hindi siya makasagot; sabi niya lang pakitanong sa congressmen kasi hindi ko alam yan,” Lacson recalled.