Interview on CNN Philippines | Dec. 20, 2018

In an interview on CNN Philippines, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– ‘pork’ in the P3.7-trillion proposed budget for 2019
– need to adhere to the budgeting process
– accusations against DBM Sec. Diokno
– the House’s draft federal constitution

Quotes from the interview…

On the budgeting system and some legislators’ moves to go around it:

“If only we legislators will adhere to and follow the budgeting process and comply strictly with the ruling of the Supreme Court on Belgica vs ES Ochoa, then life could be simple and easy. That’s the bottom line.”

“Ang problema, some legislators are trying to circumvent the budgeting process and the SC ruling on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel. Yan ang problema.”

“Ang interpretation lang nila sa pork barrel ang post-enactment. Implementation after the GAA shall have been signed and passed into law. Before kasi may lump sum amount na PDAF ang description so much amount, wala pang mga items. Then after the GAA has been passed saka lang ia-identify ng legislators na may pork barrel ang mga projects. Sabi ng SC bawal yan. Pero hindi lang yan ang sinasabing bawal. May mga corollary paragraphs na sinasabi, corollary thereto, all informal practices na kung saan nag-i-intrude ang mga legislators into the proper phase of execution, meaning that’s the domain of the executive branch, ang execution. It’s also tantamount to grave abuse of discretion and shall be accorded the same unconstitutional treatment…

View Fullscreen

… So what do we see now? Even after mapasa ang GAA at sinasabing execution is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the executive, we see billboards all over the place. Sinasabi na this is the project of congressman so and so and nag-identify ng projects ang congressmen.”

“Take for example ang Tulong Dunong program. Ito ang scholarship na binibigay pati miscellaneous fees. When we see congressmen and even senators distributing checks to their chosen scholars, nagpasa na tayo ng Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, meaning Free Tuition Act, tertiary education. May P43B doon na naka-appropriate. Yet under Tulong Dunong meron pang P3.8B. So ang proposal ko during the budget deliberations, isama na natin sa P43B para madagdagan ang tertiary education tuition, ang subsidy. Ang tawag doon Tertiary Education Subsidy. And on top of TES may TD na nakikialam ang mga legislators. Isn’t that intruding into the execution phase of the budgeting process?”

“(According to) Art. VI, Sec. 29 ng Constitution: No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. Yan ang power of the purse. But some legislators… interpret that provision, ang power of the purse, to mean power over the purse. And some, worse, power to steal from the purse. Yan ang interpretation. Ang power of the purse is based on that Constitutional provision, na walang lalabas na pera mula sa treasury na hindi naipapasa ng batas ang Kongreso tungkol sa appropriation.”

“Pag may provision sa ruling, may statement sa ruling na you should not make the equal unequal. Kasi di naman pareho ang needs ng bawa’t distrito at priorities nila. Pero ginawa ng bagong leadership ng HOR, bigyan natin ng tig-P60M bawa’t distrito, and they admitted it. So yan in violation of the SC ruling of making the equal unequal kasi di naman pareho. Dapat equitable instead of equal.”

On claims by SGMA allies that Sec. Diokno has to explain the P52B:

“Magkaiba yan. Same 52B pero iba naging items sa new 52B. The old 52B was in the NEP, ito pinapa-explain nila kay Sec. Diokno. The original 52B, bakit may 52B na ang lalaki may 8B, may 6B. Na-scrutinize din nila yan kaya ginalaw. Sabi ko nga kanina ang nakasama lang, ginalaw nyo na, sana inayos ninyo ang distribution. Ang masama ginalaw nyo tapos bumukol sa inyo. Nagkaroon ng question ngayon.”

On whether who is at fault, Sec Diokno or the congressmen:

“I won’t render a judgment kung sino ang at fault. Sabi ko kanina, kung susundin natin simple ang budgeting process, SC ruling, sana wala tayong problema. Ang problema kasi parang pinagmamalaki ng isang congressman parang karangalan nya napakalaki ng kanyang allocation. Di ba dapat ang allocation is para sa district, sa local? Kaya ang laki ng disconnect. Ang nangyari rito, the needs and proprieties of the LGUs di na-address sa national government.”

On the allegations against Sec. Diokno:

“I’m not defending Sec. Diokno. Pero sabi niya nga nakipag-deal siya sa mga agencies pag nag-appropriate at saka nag-release ng budget. I cannot imagine the DBM secretary dealing with contractors. Actually it’s the agencies that deal with contractors; and in a worst case scenario, congressmen dealing with contractors. Yan ang masama.”

“Alam natin pag nag-allocate ang congressman, bitbit ang contractor eh. Walang magawa ang agency. Pag sinabing akin yan ako naglagay riyan, as a matter of fact ang parking ng pork, may mga party-list reps wala naman silang districts kasi at large sila. Siyempre saan sila mag-park ng pork? Sa mga districts. May incidents in the past, I won’t name names anymore, ang party list rep nakikipagaway sa district rep kasi inaako ng district rep sa district niya. Sa district ko, akin ito. Nag-aagawan sila ngayon kung sinong contractor mag-implement because sabi ng district sa district ko, akin ito. Hindi ako naglagay niyan, sabi ng party list. And then there’s another, napakalaki ng allocation nila, 8B.”

On prospect of a lonely crusade vs pork:

“Never mind. Kasi before I felt so alone. Parang lonely crusade, para kang mag-isang sigaw ng sigaw, walang nangyayari. Now at least people have become conscious and aware. And to me that’s good enough. Mababaw lang kaligayahan.”

On how the public can help vs pork:

“The public can help a lot kasi pagka conscious sila… Remember, we did not imagine the SC will not rule outlawing pork. For the longest time may prior SC ruling rendering or saying pork barrel system is constitutional but in 2013 because people started to protest. Don’t get me wrong. Hindi ko intention na manggulo. Baka isipin ng tao ginugulo nyo kami. That’s not the intention.”

On House’s draft federal constitution:

“It’s still dead in the water especially so na gumawa ng sariling version ng House. Sa amin ang sentiment namin mukhang may kaunting pag-asa, there’s nothing personal in this, pero ito sentiment ng Senate. When they changed the leader of the HOR lalong nawalan ng pag-asa sa Senate. Majority, minority nag-close ranks. Dead in the water yan.”

*****

Video Courtesy: CNN Philippines’ Facebook page