Category: Hearings/Investigations

Sponsoring the 2020 Budget of the Department of National Defense

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Sen. Lacson sponsored the proposed PhP191,340,253,000ย budget of the Department of National Defense for 2020. The amount is about 4% of the 2020 budget. The key security strategy for 2018 indicated a minimum of 2% of the budget for the DND.

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Joint Committee Hearing on the Proposal to Create a Department of Disaster Management

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Sen. Lacson’s Opening Statement at the Hearing:

The World Economic Forum conducted in Geneva, Switzerland in 2017 identified both natural and man-made disasters as among the top global risks that can cause significant negative impact for several countries and industries within the next 10 years. But long before this risk has been widely talked about in international fora, disasters have unfortunately become a frequent life experience in the Philippines, and our recent history attests to this untoward reality.

Just last Friday, Nov. 8, we commemorated the sixth anniversary when category-five Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) cut a swath of unprecedented destruction across 171 cities and municipalities in Central Philippines. In the same breath, we are one with our brothers and sisters in Mindanao as they continue to heal from the scars caused by the Zamboanga siege in 2013 and the Marawi crisis in 2017. In between, various parts of the country are being shaken, quite literally, by earthquakes and numerous aftershocks; most recent of which were the three strong quakes that hit the island of Mindanao in the past weeks, affecting 146,000 Filipinos, most of whom are still living in tents as we speak.

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‘Nagkalutuan?’: At the Hearing on ‘Ninja Cops’

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[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]

At the hearing on corruption and the recycling of drugs, Sen. Lacson smelled a ‘lutong makaw’ in the case of 13 police officers tagged in a controversial anti-drug operation in Pampanga in 2013.

Lacson also questioned the seeming special treatment for P/Maj Rodney Baloyo IV, who was transferred to Tagaytay where he became OIC ‘by design.’

Earlier, Lacson moved to have SPO1 Ronald Santos cited in contempt, for his failure to attend previous Senate inquiries even after being subpoenaed. Santos was among those 13 police officers tagged for grave misconduct in a controversial anti-drug operation in November 2013.

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How to Stop Drug Recycling? Sen. Lacson Chairs the 2020 Budget Hearings of PDEA, DDB

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Sen. Lacson chaired the resumption of the hearing on the 2020 budget of the PDEA and DDB, where the problem of recycling of seized illegal drugs was taken up. Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and Court Administrator Midas Marquez attended the hearing, upon the Senate’s investigation.

Sen. Lacson cited the problem raised by the PDEA in the previous budget hearing. “Right now, whatโ€™s stocked in the warehouse of PDEA is P22B worth of different kinds of drugs. We donโ€™t know because the problem exists as PDEA claims, they have to wait for a court order before they can finally destroy the drugs confiscated. Weโ€™d like to find out anong magandang gawin para di ma-recycle ang drugs on account of stocking.”

Related: Sen. Lacson Chairs the 2020 Budget Hearings for PDEA and DDB
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‘Masyadong Mahalay’: At the Hearing on Corruption and Recycling of Drugs

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[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]

At the hearing on corruption and the recycling of drugs, Sen. Lacson moved to have P/Maj Rodney Raymond Louie Baloyo IV, relieved head of Pampanga police intel branch, cited in contempt after catching several inconsistencies in his statements on an anti-drug operation in November 2013.

Earlier during the hearing, Lacson questioned why inmates at Bilibid are still being given only P39 worth of meals a day, when the 2019 budget increased their subsistence allowance to P70 a day. Lacson warned the realignment of the funds would be tantamount to technical malversation.

Lacson also scored the revelation by former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos that the NBP director would get P1M a month from the subsistence allowance. He also questioned Atty. Fredric Santos why he notarized documents of bidders for catering services , when he is an NBP insider and a member of the Bids and Awards Committee.

Related: ‘Do Not Test Our Patience’: At the Hearing on ‘Ninja Cops’
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‘Do Not Test Our Patience’: At the Hearing on ‘Ninja Cops’

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[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]

At the Senate hearing on ‘ninja cops,’ Sen. Lacson questioned the seeming lack of action against the police personnel involved a controversial anti-drug operation in 2013. He also nearly moved to have a police officer cited in contempt for not being forthright.

Related: ‘Masyadong Mahalay’: At the Hearing on Corruption and Recycling of Drugs
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AFP Modernization, West Philippine Sea Updates, and National Security: Sen. Lacson Chairs the 2020 Budget Hearing for the DND

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[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]

At the hearing on the 2020 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), Sen. Lacson cited the need to revisit the AFP Modernization Program for the country to achieve its goal of a minimum credible defense posture, and asked if the DND should get compensation from telcos that set up facilities inside military camps.

Lacson also pushed for a sustainable long-term program that would provide for the pension requirements of uniformed personnel. He inquired about the status of a new infantry battalion that would fight terrorism and similar threats in the Mindanao area.

The DND is seeking a budget of P258.35 billion for 2020, including P119.118B for personnel services; P69.704B for pension; P40.701B for MOOE; and P28.831B for capital outlay.

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‘Make Sure Gov’t Portal Is Always Up’: Sen. Lacson Chairs the 2020 Budget Hearing for the DICT

At the hearing on the 2020 budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Sen. Lacson urged the agency to take steps to make sure the government portal is always up, including closer supervision and control .

The DICT is seeking a budget of P36.393 billion for 2020 , much higher than the P3.76 billion in the NEP.

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FINE-TOOTHED COMB: Sen. Lacson Poses Questions at the 2020 Budget Hearing for the DPWH

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At the hearing on the 2020 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Sen. Lacson raised several questions involving the agency’s use of funds for infrastructure projects. “Sabi kasi ni Senate President, we will go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb. So we are going through all this.”

Sen. Lacson questioned the lodging of two-thirds of the DPWH’s budget in the central officeย ; unrecouped advance payments to erring contractorsย ; and the delay and/or non-implementation of projects due to poor planningย . He inquired as well if the issue involving road-right-of-way (RROW) has become a hopeless caseย .

But he also made clear these are not the only questionable cases, adding this is not to find fault. “We are going through all this. This is not to find fault but for (our) future reference.

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‘Maghahanap Ako ng Pork na Makakaltasan’: Sen. Lacson Chairs the 2020 Budget Hearings for OPAPP, SPDA and MinDA

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Sen. Lacson chaired the hearing for the 2020 budgets of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, Mindanao Development Authority, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process.

Lacson advised the SPDA to find ways to make its revenue-generating projects more competitive, and consider privatizing or offering for saleย the projects that are losing money for government.ย He urged the OPAPP to coordinate with the appropriate agencies on funding and securityย of projects in conflict-affected areas.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lacsonย lauded the MinDA for its fruit festival program bringing Mindanao farmers’ produce to other parts of the country, and vice-versa.ย “That’s very creative and innovative,” he said.

He indicated the additional funding requests that can be justified could be addressed via “pork” funds that may be found in – and excised from – the proposed 2020 budget. “Maghahanap ako ng pork na makakaltasan,” he said.

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