Umaasa si Senador Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson na ipagpapatuloy ng mga Senador ng 19th Congress ang krusada sa pagbubusisi at pagbabantay sa national budget laban sa mga kuwestiyunableng congressional insertions (a.k.a “pork barrel”) at mga hindi kapaki-pakinabang na appropriations.
“I hope somebody will take the cudgels and continue the fight because while the Supreme Court has ruled pork barrel as unconstitutional, there are so many ways to go around it,” pahayag ni Lacson sa media noong Linggo ng gabi sa Pasay City.
Idinagdag din ng Senador na magtatapos ang termino sa ika-30 ng Hunyo, na makakatulong nang husto sa budget scrutiny ang ilang miyembro ng kaniyang staff na ngayo’y magiging bahagi na rin ng opisina ng ibang mga senador.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson is hoping senators in the 19th Congress will continue his crusade of tenaciously scrutinizing the national budget and keeping it free from dubious congressional insertions (a.k.a. “pork barrel”) and useless appropriations.
“I hope somebody will take the cudgels and continue the fight because while the Supreme Court has ruled pork barrel as unconstitutional, there are so many ways to go around it,” Lacson, who ends his Senate term on June 30, told media in Pasay City Sunday evening.
He added some members of his staff who have joined other senators can be a great help in scrutinizing the budget for dubious insertions.
Mas magiging epektibo at matagumpay ang mga hakbang para basagin ang “vicious cycle” ng korapsiyon, kung makikiisa at magiging aktibo ang publiko sa laban na ito.
Isa ito sa mga nakikitang solusyon ni Senador Panfilo Lacson, sa harap ng katotohanan na naging ugali na ng mga nasasangkot na magpalamig at manahimik lamang muna hanggang sa tuluyan nang makalimutan ng tao ang kanilang ginawa.
“Some officials have lost all sense of shame. Even if charges are filed against them, they just lie low because they know that once the issue dies down and the public no longer thinks much of it, they can go back to their old ways,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam ng Radyo Katribu.
“That said, the vicious cycle of corruption is not limited to those in government. It takes two to tango: those who corrupt – and the public who wittingly or otherwise turns a blind eye,” dagdag ng mambabatas.
It is high time to end the vicious cycle involving corruption cases where those involved lie low until the issue dies down – and the public can play a more active role to achieve this, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Friday.
Lacson, who has actively participated in many Senate investigations involving corruption cases, said those involved have become brazen in pocketing public funds by exploiting such a cycle.
“Some officials have lost all sense of shame. Even if charges are filed against them, they just lie low because they know that once the issue dies down and the public no longer thinks much of it, they can go back to their old ways,” he said in an interview on Radyo Katribu.
“That said, the vicious cycle of corruption is not limited to those in government. It takes two to tango: those who corrupt – and the public who wittingly or otherwise turns a blind eye,” he added.
Puwedeng gamitin para ipambili ng kinakailangan na P20 bilyon na karagdagang bakuna ngayong taon ang bilyon-bilyong congressional insertions na minarkahan ng Department of Budget and Management (DBM) na for later release (FLR).
Iminungkahi ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson matapos na makausap nitong nakaraang Huwebes ang tatlong czar na nangangasiwa ng mga programa laban sa COVID-19.
“I suggested that the P20 billion can be sourced from the insertions made by lawmakers marked ‘FLR’ because the implementing agencies concerned were not consulted on the insertions and thus could not implement them,” pagbubunyag ni Lacson sa panayam sa kanya ng DWIZ nitong Sabado.
Why not use the humongous congressional insertions tagged by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as “For Later Release” (FLR) to meet the P20-billion requirement for COVID vaccines for this year?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson raised the possibility following a meeting between him and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and the “three czars” of the government’s COVID response program last Thursday.
“I suggested that the P20 billion can be sourced from the insertions made by lawmakers marked ‘FLR’ because the implementing agencies concerned were not consulted on the insertions and thus could not implement them,” he said in an interview on DWIZ radio Saturday.
Without the certainty of punishment, the conviction of “pork barrel scam queen” Janet Lim-Napoles will not be enough to stop the menace of pork barrel and its iterations, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Saturday.
Lacson, who had battled the pork barrel system since 2001, lamented that not even the Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing pork in 2013 managed to stop the practice since those involved would merely find a way to circumvent it.
“Have we solved the problem of ensuring public funds are used properly instead of going to the pockets of corrupt people? Can we be sure projects are free of bribery and other forms of corruption? These are questions that we must ask ourselves, and we can easily verify the answers – it takes two to tango,” he said in an interview on DWIZ radio.
From Lito Banayo’s column in the Manila Standard: Those who know the man enough also know that he would rather fight the good fight, regardless of the odds, a seeming Don Quixote jousting against the windmills of evil, fighting the unbeatable foe, regardless of public approbation or disapproval from peers—outlier if need be—just to be consistent with what upon his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in the Class of 1971, he vowed: “What is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right.”
Not even the pandemic and its crippling effects could stop the greed of some lawmakers as they toyed around with the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson lamented Friday.
Lacson said this after the bicameral report on the budget showed not only manipulations in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget, but also cuts in the budgets of other departments previously approved under the Senate and House versions of the budget bill.
“Congress bicameral committee report: P83.87B of DPWH infra projects migrated to new areas while appropriations worth P55.52B disappeared. As if it wasn’t enough to satisfy their greed, they cut the budgets of other departments by P28.35B. Story of our lives,” he said on his Twitter account.
“These realignments being capricious and arbitrary on the part of the bicameral conference committee members, they did not involve proper planning by the DPWH. This explains why, as I have pointed out in my interpellation last Wednesday, year in and year out, DPWH suffers one of the lowest budget utilization rates with an annual average of P82 billion from 2011 to 2018 and even lower average disbursement rate since 2017,” he added.
Dubious items in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget for 2021 – including double and overlapping appropriations – could be a key starting point for Malacañang in reviewing the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
“It is clear that questionable items such as double and overlapping appropriations should be vetoed, along with at least 793 line items for multi-purpose buildings with a uniform P1-million appropriation each,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio Thursday evening.
On the first day of floor deliberations on the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill, Sen. Lacson revealed several ‘skeleton projects‘ of the DPWH to illustrate “how acts of corruption are committed than by the misuse and abuse of public funds. Not anymore by the hundreds of thousands but by the millions of pesos wasted during implementation of the national budget.”
Sen. Lacson suggested that the funds for the skeleton projects, including at least P68B for multi-purpose buildings (MPBs) go to items that need funding more in the budget, such as the National Broadband Program. He also questioned the ‘FLR’ (For Later Release)practice of the DBM.
The DPWH Secretary has full authority to assign personnel under his department, including the district engineers, unless he delegates it to his regional directors or if Malacañang overrides the assignments on very few occasions.
We also know that district representatives almost always use their influence in having their “favorite” district engineers assigned to their districts for a very obvious purpose: to have full control in the implementation of their “pet projects” funded by their insertions in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The question is, can the DPWH Secretary stand up to the pressure exerted on him by the congressmen? As we already know, the answer is obviously no. And no matter how the secretary denies it, nobody is ready to believe him. We also know that it is the root cause of corruption.
Almost anything that has to do with politics in this country breeds corruption. Politics becomes evil when self-aggrandizement and greed come into play – whether it is in aid of reelection or enrichment of an elected official while in power, the result is the same. Worse, these people do not know when to stop once they have started.
We only need to drive around the country to see and experience it everyday, in the form of dilapidated and substandard roads and bridges and other infrastructure projects. Potholes and clogged drainage are commonplace during and after the rains; worn-out infra projects even only after a few years of construction and inaugurations, and many more evidence in plain sight.
In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* P1-M ‘uniform’ appropriations for at least 42 congressional districts in DPWH’s 2021 budget
* need to prioritize vaccines, R&D in 2021 budget
In an interview on CNN Philippines, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* ‘violations’ by the House in passing the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill
* possible institutional amendments for R&D, COVID vaccines
* implementing rules and regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020
Last Oct. 16, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for 2021. Yet as of today, it continues to tackle amendments via the so-called “small group.”
Art. VI, Sec. 26, Paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution is unequivocally clear, regardless of where the amendments will come from. Wala namang sinasabi ang Constitution na pag naghahabol ng “errata,” hindi ito applicable: “Upon the last reading of a bill, NO AMENDMENT THERETO SHALL BE ALLOWED, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.”
Amid promises of “best efforts” to transmit the budget bill by end-October, if the House still ends up transmitting the bill on Nov. 5, does it mean that the description “House of the People” is all lip service?
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: * effect of reenacted budget on COVID-19 response in 2021
* connection between DPWH lump sums and delay of budget bill in the House of Representatives
Between Oct. 12 and 14 when the Senate is originally scheduled to receive the transmittal of the General Appropriations Bill from the House of Representatives, and Nov. 17 when the Speaker said they will be able to transmit the same to us, is definitely not a one-day difference as claimed by Speaker Cayetano.
With that said, I have just suggested to the Speaker if it’s possible for him to resume their session, which is merely suspended and not adjourned, before All Saints’ Day just to approve on third and final reading the House version of the budget measure and thereafter transmit the same to us.
I also told him the senators, especially the finance committee vice chairpersons, need at least one week to study the House version and submit to the mother committee our reports. Another week will be needed for the finance committee to consolidate everything and file its committee report. In so doing, we can start floor debates immediately after we resume session on Nov. 16, or even before that.
That is the only way we can ensure the timely passage of the budget measure. We cannot afford an impasse involving the most important piece of legislation that Congress has to pass: the national budget, which I have consistently regarded as the lifeblood of our economy, if not our country.
In an interview on DZBB/GNTV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* options on further actions regarding anomalies at PhilHealth
* possible use of questionable sums in DPWH budget to address budget shortage for health care in 2021
It is basic that once an infra project has started its implementation, it is already obligated. Hence, there can be no partial cash allocation, unless that project is discontinued, cancelled, or terminated. Then, the unused portion of the appropriation becomes savings that may be realigned. Or, if the project is covered by Multi Year Contractual Authority (MYCA), formerly known as MYOA or Multi Year Obligational Authority which is clearly spelled out and provided in the 2020 GAA, the same item can reappear in the succeeding budget year.
We were not born yesterday as far as budgeting is concerned.
In our continuing efforts to scrutinize the 2021 National Expenditure Program, particularly on the issue of “re-appropriations” and “lump sum appropriations” involving infrastructure projects under the DPWH, we have found that the initial amount of P73.5 billion covering 2,933 items has now ballooned to P135.8 billion involving 5,913 projects – thus effectively increasing the total questionable appropriations to P532.3 billion from the initial P469 billion that we exposed earlier, including lump sums in the amount of P396.4 billion.
Considering the projects under “Operations” in the proposed budget of the DPWH has total appropriations of P613.1 billion, easily 87 percent or P532.3 billion is deemed questionable.
Having said all that, a legal question needs to be addressed as we progress in our plenary budget deliberations: Will this kind of “errata” be allowed by the Senate, or Congress for that matter, if the items to be rectified do not involve simple typographical errors or other similar minor errors like interchanged or misplaced items in the NEP?
Therefore, if my colleagues will not allow such major rectification, we may see a 2021 GAA that is reduced by more than half a trillion pesos.
I abhor violations of the legislative process, and have called out members of Congress for such acts – such as when they inserted their pork barrel in the National Budget bill after its approval on third and final reading or ratification of the bicameral conference committee report, and before the bill was enrolled.
Why, then, would I make such a stealthy insertion to the Anti-Terrorism Bill as Robles implies?
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* possible supplemental budget to deal with COVID-19 [0:26]
* at least P989B unused from 2019 budget [2:40]
* local officials naipit sa Social Amelioration Program [17:39]
* DBM circular barring release of 35% of 2020 budget’s appropriations [19:45]
* lockdown until June? [24:17]
Nagkaroon ng “hatchet job” laban kay Senador Panfilo Lacson matapos niyang isiwalat ang pagkakaharang ng Malacañang sa tinatayang P80 bilyong realignment sa 2020 national budget.
Nakarating sa senador ang paglutang ng pekeng impormasyon na ini-sponsor niya ang isang proyektong kalsada sa Tarlac City sa kabila ng patakaran nito na huwag magpatupad ng proyekto gamit ang pork barrel.
“First, I don’t realign appropriations for road projects, much less local roads since it smacks of a pork barrel allocation. Also, the realignments I propose in the national budget are institutional – meaning, they have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from the implementing agencies concerned,” mariing paliwanag ni Lacson.
Ang nabanggit na pahayag ay ginawa ni Lacson bilang pagpapasinungaling sa lumabas na impormasyon na siya ang nag-sponsor sa P25-milyong road concreting project sa Barangay San Rafael, Tarlac City.
Unmitigated gall. This best describes some lawmakers who realigned at least P80 billion from the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” flagship program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the 2020 national budget.
This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies.
Such “allies” have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him, but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else. The President should always be wary of these so-called allies.
In an interview with media in Lingayen, Pangasinan, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– VP Robredo’s claim that the war vs drugs is a ‘massive failure’
– Filipinos affected by tension in the Middle East
– pork in the 2020 budget
– PNP physical fitness policy
Malakas na ang tsansa na simula sa darating na taon, direkta nang matatanggap ng mga nangangailangang local government unit (LGU) ang pondong kanilang hinihingi para sa kanilang mga proyekto.
Ito ay bunga ng polisiya ng Department of Budget and Management (DBM) na nag-aatas sa mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan na kumuha muna ng sertipikasyon sa Regional Development Councils (RDCs) kaugnay sa mga proyektong ipapatupad sa taong 2021.
Ayon kay Senador Panfilo Lacson na nangunguna sa krusada para sa tamang paggamit ng pondo ng pamahalaan, ang hakbang na ito ng DBM ay magwawakas na sa “disconnect” na matagal nang nagpapahirap sa mga lokal na pamahalaan.
“I am thankful to DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado for requiring agencies to obtain certifications from RDCs to make sure projects have local support. This is a step in the right direction that we must follow,” ayon kay Lacson.
The coming year may finally mark the beginning of the end for the “disconnect” that has shut out far-flung towns and provinces from much-needed funding for their development programs, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson said he has high hopes for the Department of Budget and Management’s policy to require agencies to secure certifications from Regional Development Councils for projects to be included in the proposed national budget for 2021.
“For the P4.1-trillion budget for 2020, projects initiated by the Regional Development Councils accounted for only 25 percent of development projects in the National Expenditure Program or the President’s Budget that forms the basis of the budget bill. Yet, local government units, especially those in far-flung areas, are in the best position to know their constituents’ needs and priorities,” said Lacson, an untiring watchdog of the national budget an advocate of local government empowerment.
“I am thankful to DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado for requiring agencies to obtain certifications from RDCs to make sure projects have local support. This is a step in the right direction that we must follow,” he added.
In an interview on DWIZ Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– ‘early’ signing of the 2020 budget in January 2020
– reinstatement of cops acquitted in Maguindanao massacre case
– NPA hit list and anti-terror bill
– assessment of 2019 and expectations in 2020
In interviews on DZRH and DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– need for strong political will by PRRD to veto pork
– continued blatant violations of the SC ruling vs pork in 2020 budget
– moves to counter pork and other ‘insertions’
– investigation of issues on the 2019 SEA Games organizers
One reason why I did not attend the signing of the bicam report: Last night after our session, my office received from the House of Representatives through the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) one USB drive containing two files, the “Source” File and the “List” File.
Our preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345Bthat were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning.
Sen. Lacson proposed institutional amendments to the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020. These include added funding for landmark programs of the administration, such as the PhilSys (National ID) program, the Universal Health Program, and free tuition. He also sought to deduct funding from programs of agencies such as the DPWH and DoTr due to their underutilization of funds, and realign them to more worthwhile projects.
Representatives of the Senate and House met to discuss the passage of the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget. At the meeting, Sen. Lacson manifested for transparency, where the Senate and House will submit to each other the new amendments not yet included in their respective versions.
Sen. Lacson also said he expects the smooth and early passage of the 2020 budget bill, provided there is no move to introduce post-ratification amendments like in the 2019 budget. He also answered questions on issues regarding the SEA Games hosting, and the selection of a new PNP chief.
In an interview on ANC, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: – House leaders’ claims that Senate to blame for early hosting woes for SEA Games – pork in the 2020 budget
– reported proposal to vote for President and VP in tandem
– advice to VP Robredo after her removal as ICAD co-chair