Sen. Lacson’s Manifestation on the Ratification of the Bicameral Report on the 2020 Budget Bill

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I would have voted in the negative. And I have my own reasons. First, there was no annex sent to us. The only thing I had at the time was a USB drive sent by the House of Representatives to the LBRMO. And the USB drive contained two files: one Source file and one List file. When we examined both files, the Source file revealed there are line items 1,253 in total worth P83.219B. The List file contained 742 line items, amounting to P16.345B. When we further scrutinized both files, we found some questionable items.

For example, thereโ€™s one item there that says P50M asphalt overlay in Catbalogan City. Now I am only wondering, what is the difference between the pre-Supreme Court ruling in 2013 where senators were being appropriated P200M each, and congressmen P70M each, and they would exercise post-enactment identification of projects with an item described as Asphalt Overlay of Catbalogan City. What I am saying, Mr. President, is, thereโ€™s no project identification except asphalt overlay of Catbalogan City. We do not know where the P50M would be spent or allocated, which roads in Catbalogan City in Samar. So I cannot see any difference between pre-SC ruling in 2013 and the post-SC ruling declaring pork barrel as unconstitutionalpost-SC ruling declaring pork barrel as unconstitutional.

There are other items Mr. President, like reconstruction, rehabilitation of roads Balayan, Batangas; reconstruction, rehabilitation of roads Nasugbu, Batangas; reconstruction, rehabilitation of roads Lemery, Batangas.

We spend so much time in deliberating on the 2020 budget measure. We spent countless hours studying then debating not only on the committee level but on the floor as well. And then when we corrected items which DPWH at the time admitted to have submitted lump sum appropriations, which they corrected by submitting errata, and we will find out later during the bicam report signing, the same items would resurface.

So those are the reasons and more why I would have dissented in the ratification of the bicam report. As we speak Mr. President, thereโ€™s no annex being sent. I donโ€™t know if the LBRMO has received the annexes of the details of the line items contained in the bicam report which was signed last Wednesday morning and ratified Wednesday afternoon.

Having said that, I would not have signed a bicam report containing noting except a summary of increases and decreases. And there are other items like 8 flood control projects each worth P60M. So how could I sign a BCC report and vote for the ratification if there are items that are all in round figure, down to millions of pesos, not even thousands or hundreds of pesos, when during the budget deliberation we were trying to correct this?

And I would like to find out from LBRMO if they received details of the bicam report in the form of annexes because I understand as of this morning they have not received any. And I donโ€™t want to have a repetition of what we experienced earlier this year in April, when the SP had to write the President of the Philippines to manifest objection or disowning of several items included after we ratified the bicam report.

There are many items because there were 2 files, P83.2B worth of PAPs and P16B. Now we are not certain if the list file containing several items is the only one inserted in the bicam report because as per our information coming from the agencies themselves, they are not even sure because they deleted several items that they submitted to us and replaced those items with different items, apparently items are not described properly or given proper details.

In closing, I would like to show our colleague a one-minute video clip with several footages, just to emphasize the point that the disconnect between the needs and priorities of the LGUs and the national budget is really that wide.

Now, Mr. President, seeing items like P30M for construction of a bridge that I do not even know where, I donโ€™t think it is proper for me to sign a bicam report or even vote in the affirmative in the ratification of that bicam report. Thatโ€™s all, Mr. President.

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