Sen. Legarda did not actually present what she and Rep. Andaya have agreed upon in the small group bicam. She merely articulated to the best of her recollection what the bicam report would be presented for ratification.
Basically, yes, the P160 million per House member plus the billion-peso insertions made by a number of their colleagues, and the P23-billion Department of Public Works and Highways insertions by a number of senators plus other insertions in different agencies have all been retained.
Sadly, no matter how hard I argued last night, I only have one vote although I have good reason to believe that some like-minded colleagues are supportive of deleting all pork insertions, particularly the excessive and unconscionable realignments made not only by our House counterpart, but by a number of our colleagues as well.
On a positive note, all appropriations for flood control, particularly dredging, desilting and the like have been deleted to be realigned to capital outlay for purchase of dredging machines. Also, the Department of Health realignment that the Senate introduced and most of my institutional amendments have been retained, like the 240-day-a-year school feeding program for wasted and nearly wasted school children, additional allowance for teachers, some appropriations cover for laws passed regarding our age old veterans, augmentation budget requested by the judiciary, activation of one infantry division, etc.
More than that, hopefully, I was able to enlighten the public because of the public discourse that transpired, for or against the outlawed pork barrel. I would say, we have gained some headway in this regard.
Hopefully, the President and his economic managers will further scrutinize the final version of the budget bill as passed by Congress and exercise his veto power to excise the line items that clearly look and smell like pork.