Lacson to ‘Talking Heads’: Keep Helping Enlighten Public on Pork

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The more they talk, the more they enlighten the public about the “evil pork” in the national budget, if unwittingly so.

On this note, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson thanked the “talking heads” of House Speaker Gloria Arroyo for contributing to the public’s knowledge on the issue.

“What Speaker GMA’s talking heads obviously do not realize is that they’re actually advancing my cause in educating the public more about the ‘evil pork’ in the national budget. I earnestly urge them to continue this public discourse. Many thanks to Cong. Castro and Bravo,” Lacson said in a post on his Twitter account Saturday night.

Related: Ping sa Mga Naglilihis sa Isyu ng Pork Barrel: Nakatulong Kayo sa Krusada Ko

Lacson was referring to House officials including majority leader Fredenil Castro and party list Rep. Anthony Bravo, who had issued various statements on pork in the budget over the weekend.

On Friday, Bravo tried to defend the insertions made by members of the House of Representatives in the P3.7-trillion budget for 2019, by ascribing motives to Lacson’s long-standing advocacy against the pork barrel system.

Lacson noted Bravo even lied in accusing Lacson of having so-called secret amendments, when Lacson already made public his institutional amendments to the budget.

He added Bravo was also lying when he claimed Lacson referred to amendments by the Senate as institutional amendments and those by the House as pork.

“If he intended to be truthful about his statements, he should not have skipped my revelation about the PHP23-billion insertions made by a number of senators on the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget alone,” Lacson said.

“What I cannot understand is why Bravo would be conveniently selective in his recollection of facts. I hope he would be truthful and not resort to lying,” he added.

On the other hand, Castro had similarly dared Lacson to “explain” the institutional amendments he made in the budget, when Lacson had already done so.

Lacson already made public all his amendments to the 2019 budget – all of them institutional – for the sake of transparency.

His institutional amendments, which seek to benefit sectors including education, the environment and national security, are based on need, planning and vetting.

In contrast, he said individual amendments such as flood control projects and various structures were based on lawmakers’ “intervention” and, in most cases, had no consultations with the implementing agencies concerned.

Such individual amendments can be considered pork barrel, based on the 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court that covers whimsical and arbitrary projects, he said.

“Are they trying to get back at me because they are affected by my efforts to excise pork from the national budget?” Lacson said.

“The national budget is the lifeblood of our country. If we allow pork to ruin the budget, we taxpayers will suffer,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lacson expanded to all fellow lawmakers his challenge of making public their amendments to the budget bill.

“The challenge applies to all who introduced amendments, individual or institutional. Let them make public their amendments, so the public can judge if it’s pork. That is much better than resorting to lies and cover-up,” he said.