To The Manila Times: This is in connection with the thinly veiled insinuations made against Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson by Mr. Francisco Tatad in his Feb. 13, 2019 column in The Manila Times.
Senator Lacson’s ‘institutional amendments’ in 2019 budget explained
Letters, Feb. 16, 2019
THIS is in connection with the thinly veiled insinuations made against Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson by Mr. Francisco Tatad in his Feb. 13, 2019 column in The Manila Times (“The total defilement of our politics”).
Please allow us to set the record straight, to disabuse the minds of your readers and the public.
In his column, ex-Senator Tatad repeatedly hid behind so-called “sources in the bicameral conference committee” in claiming that “one senator” supposedly proposed “P88.82 billion in ‘institutional’ and other insertions, while washing his hands clean of any pork barrel or ‘insertions’.”
While ex-Minister Tatad seems to lack the guts to directly name the senator, the details of the institutional amendments (not institutional and other insertions, a term Tatad appears to parrot) indicate he is referring to Senator Lacson, whose institutional amendments were cited in Tatad’s column. These include:
* A P2-billion increase for the Department of Education’s Quick Response Fund
* An increase of P3.7125 billion for the School-Based Feeding Program that provides 240 days of lunch meals for severely wasted and wasted learners
* A P2.925-billion increase for the DepEd’s computerization program
* A P920.669-million increase in appropriations for the Supreme Court and lower courts
* P4.78 billion to mobilize a new infantry unit to address the threat of terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf.
The full list of Senator Lacson’s institutional amendments have been posted on his website.
Senator Lacson has repeatedly pointed out that institutional amendments — such as those he proposed in the 2019 national budget — are based on need, planning and vetting, and seek to benefit sectors including education, the environment and national security. They are based on requests by the concerned implementing agencies, which have the plans to implement the programs but lack the funds to do so.
In contrast, individual amendments such as flood control projects and various structures are based on lawmakers’ personal “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.
It is quite disappointing that ex-Minister Tatad, who boasts of a long career in journalism that could have been his legacy as “Trabahong Tatad,” may instead be remembered for “Trabahong Tamad.” How else explain his use of the term “institutional and other insertions,” on the same day that former deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar used a similar term — ”institutional insertions” — in his column in the Manila Standard? Did ex-Minister Tatad and Mr. Olivar engage in “copy-paste” journalism from their apparent “common source”?
Rest assured Senator Lacson will remain an untiring, tenacious watchdog of the national budget, making sure dubious congressional insertions (pork barrel) and useless appropriations are checked and deleted during plenary debates.
Media Relations Officer
Office of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson