#PingSays: ‘Pork’ na Parked Funds sa 2020 Budget? | Nov. 4, 2019

In an interview, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– potentially problematic items in the 2020 budget
– P20B lump sum in the proposed budget

QUOTES and NOTES:

On potentially problematic items in the 2020 budget:

“Ito ang hindi malinaw as described. Kasi pag pinagusapan natin ang budget lalo ang Projects Activities and Programs, kailangan specific or properly described. For example may 2 items involving Kennon Road. Ang isa basta sinabi na lang P507M Kennon Road. There’s another item P70 plus million naka-specify may stationing from Km so and so to Km so and so. Ganoon dapat.”

“Then there are other items under Special Purpose Fund. Ang SPF ginagamit pag-augment pagka kinapos ang regular budget. Under Assistance to LGUs, there is P4B under the item Other Financial Assistance to LGUs. Hindi naman malinaw. When I asked Sec Ano and DILG officials during the budget deliberation for the budget of DILG, kung alam nila ang P4B at alam nila paano gamitin, sagot nila hindi. There’s another item P2.5B again under ALGU, description lang Assistance to Cities. Whereas ang ibang items Assistance to Provinces and Municipalities naka-indicate, naka-itemize. So ito ang nakita nating problematic ang implementation, if they can be implemented at all. But in fairness to the HOR, as announced, ginalaw lang nila is P9.5B and all their amendments are institutional, tama yan. Wala kaming nakitang amendments na lumabas sa sinasabi nilang P9.5B na individual amendments.”

“Hindi natin alam paano napunta roon. The point is, tinanong ko ang agencies na dapat mag-implement during the committee hearing. Ang sagot, they don’t know anything about the P4B and how it would be implemented, so it’s problematic. So ibig sabihin noon lump sum appropriations na hindi malinaw. Kaya tayo nagkakaroon ng katakot-takot o malaking unused appropriations because of those appropriations.”

“Sa budget call, DILG ang nag-de-defend. Pero ang ALGU, medyo unique ito because there are 5 items na ang iba, under DILG pero ang iba under DBM. And DBM as we know is not an implementing agency. Bakit magkakaroon ng P4B naka-lodge sa SPF under the care of DBM and another P2.5B described as Assistance to Cities na nasa DBM din? Ito ika-clarify natin when we tackle the budget on the floor particularly sa general principles bakit ganoon, di consistent.”

“That’s more or less di exact P20B, I think it’s more than P20B. Sa DPWH alone lalampas P10B, mga P14B. For example Kennon Road P507M and another P70M which is okay kasi nakadescribe anong gagawin. Ang tanong doon, remember I questioned some projects in Sorsogon na may overlapping ng several linear meters kasi may major item, meron pang mini item. Baka mamaya mag-overlap ang P70-plus million na stationing na naka-describe pagkatapos may P507M baka mag-overlap. The problem is when I asked DPWH ang na-save dahil sa overlapping dahil di na kailangan gawin nagawa na ng isang contractor, hindi naman binalik. So hindi savings for the country. Naging savings ng whoever.  Yan ang problema. And waste ito ng public funds. So while this involves sabihin natin measly amount compared to the P4.1T, pag pinagsama-sama mo it will run to the tens if not hundreds of millions of pesos. Sayang yan.”

“Sa NEP yan (parked item). Wala namang nagalaw ang HOR eh. Ang nakaka-worry lang, after they approved on 3rd and final reading ang HOR version to be transmitted to us, bakit may panawagan sila to congressmen to submit individual amendments? So we can only ‘suspect’ na baka sa BCC nila ipapasok. Hindi kakaunti yan. After ma-approve ang HOR version on final reading bakit kailangan mag-submit pa ng individual amendments ang congressmen?”

“We don’t know. There’s no way to find out (sino ang nag-insert). Kasi that’s between several congressmen and the DBM kung paano nakapasok.”

“Walang paper trail kasi voca yan, verbal yan.”

Possible violation of Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling:

“Ang definition lang ng congressman ng pork is post-legislation. Naka-lump sum siya di pa defined kasi naka-lump sum na P200M o P70M whichever is the case pero walang description. In this case naka-park ito as lump sum and tama, that’s also considered pork as per SC ruling. May ruling ang SC pagka it amounts to abuse of discretion pork pa rin yan. Kung lump sum, subject ito sa abuse of discretion. Pareho ang kahihinatnan noon.”

Districts where parked funds point to:

“May districts doon pero hindi natin alam kung kagagawan, we can only assume in-insert yan ng congressmen in those districts. Ang nakakatuwa there’s 1 very particular item requesting for road repairs, certain segment. Question is, how would DPWH implement a request? Ni hindi man lang finalize ang request in-approve tapos describe ang item. Pag sinabing requesting for this kind of project paano implement yan? So ang conclusion, and this is a safe conclusion on our part at least, mukhang cut and paste lang ang pina-submit na request ng congressman particular congressman, hindi na-vet, pinasok na lang doon kaya requesting ang lumabas.”

“Mapapaaway na naman tayo (kung binulgar natin ang distrito). Marami yan, kalat-kalat.”

Asking DBM to clarify P20B:

“Papa-clarify ko actually. And I have all the items, all the descriptions of the appropriations. Question namin yan how they intend to spend. Remember last year ang other financial assistance to LGUs, it amounted to P16B. When the HOR transmitted to us their version naging P19B pa, which we deleted. Ang naging problema lang, medyo may bulk ng major portion ng P19B kung saan-saan napunta, na-realign.”

“Question siyempre sa deliberation sa interpellation we’ll question and let them explain. Kung ma-explain nila properly how they intend to implement those projects, then fine, ok lang.”

Possible fates of the P20B in the 2020 proposed budget:

“Magiging savings yan or the President will veto ang mga amendments which we only have to point out. Tulad ng ginawa namin for the 2019 budget, the SP on behalf of the Senate wrote the President, these are the items we found questionable. And the President vetoed the items. Yan ang pwede mangyari.”

On cut-and-paste items:

“So far yan pa lang nakita naming napaka-interesting. Eye-catching dahil requesting. Hindi sinabing project so and so from Km so and so to Km so and so, nakalagay doon requesting a project in this area.”

“Kailangan magkaroon ng amendments. Kung na-adopt even assuming without accepting na-adopt ang HOR version, ang cure nito is implementation either through exercise of veto ng Presidente or hindi ma-implement, papasok sa savings, punta sa Treasury.

On disagreements by other lawmakers to adopt HOR version of budget:

“I can see the sentiment of my colleagues kasi marami rin sila amendments. Pag adopt naming ang HOR version goodbye to their amendments. And I can understand the sentiments of my colleagues. That is why I just floated the idea hoping we can fast-track the enrollment of the budget bill and to prevent further mangling of the national budget by way of individual amendments.”

“That’s why we are having an all-senators’ caucus. Ang topic is budget. Paguusapan namin yan. But nakikita ko mukhang malabo because my colleagues want to introduce their own individual amendments. Ang nakaka-worry kasi it’s Nov 4 and so far hindi pa lahat naka-submit ng committee reports ang subcommittees. In my case I submitted my committee report within the first week after we adjourned, before Oct 10, nakapag-submit ako. I don’t know about the other vice-chairmen. Be that as it may, the earliest the sponsor can report it out on the floor is Nov 11. So give or take Nov 11 pag nag-tackle kami we must be able to approve the Senate version by first week December para magkaroon ng BCC give or take 1 week, and the last 3 days of the session, Dec 16-18 we can ratify. So medyo tight ang schedule. So medyo nakaka-worry rin na baka hindi umabot before we go on adjournment Dec 18. Either magkakaroon ng special session or worse baka mag-reenact.”

On calls to specify lump sums:

“Walang explanation ang lump sum, sila lang nakakaalam noon. Pag lump sum it is not for everybody to know. Ang nakakaalam lang doon sino nagpasok ng lump sum kung ano intention niya sa lump sum. Kasi kung pwede i-describe, how can you vet a project, activity or program kung walang specific description? How would the implementing agency properly vet? Pag sinabi mo P570M Kennon Road paano vet ng DPWH na mag-implement? Saan mapupunta ang P507M? Next to that, P70 plus million, Km so and so Kennon Road din. Di ba dapat ganoon, di lump sum na baka mag-overlap. Walang detalye. Yan ang lump sum. Pag lump sum pork yan subject to abuse of discretion.”

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