Tag: Anti-Pork

On the House Continuing to Tackle Amendments After Approving the 2021 Budget Bill

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.”

The claim of the House Appropriations Committee chair that the “errata” a.k.a. amendments will come from the implementing agencies and not from the individual House members will further muddle an already constitutionally infirm and error-filled budget measure. Why? The authorization part of the four-phase budget process is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, and the executive should deal only with budget preparation and execution.

No amount of technicalities and sweet-talk maneuvers can correct a flawed budget that is supposed to address the problems and concerns of more than 100 million Filipinos.

It is time that we correct the mindset of the so-called representatives of the people in this regard.


On the House’s Nov. 5 Transmittal of the 2021 Budget Bill to the Senate

If the House of Representatives’ transmittal of the General Appropriations Bill to the Senate will be on Nov. 5 or 6, there is no assurance that we can pass the budget on time and thus avoid a re-enacted budget.

As they have promised the President, they will approve the GAB on third and final reading today, Oct. 16, and it only takes one week to print, so why Nov. 5?

Not only is the delay unacceptable. It is difficult to understand, unless there are plans to amend the bill after the third reading.

That said, the House leadership should be reminded to adhere to Art. VI, Sec. 26 of the Constitution that says: “Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed…xxx

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?


#PINGterview: Walang Pondo para sa COVID-19 Vaccine/Response sa 2021 kung Reenacted ang Budget

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

Continue reading “#PINGterview: Walang Pondo para sa COVID-19 Vaccine/Response sa 2021 kung Reenacted ang Budget”

The Only Way to Ensure the Timely Passage of the P4.5-Trillion 2021 Budget Bill

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.


#PINGterview: Likely Delay in Passage of 2021 Budget; Sec. Duque’s WHO Post

In an interview with Senate media, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* likely delay in passage of 2021 budget
* Sec. Duque’s new post at the World Health Organization

Continue reading “#PINGterview: Likely Delay in Passage of 2021 Budget; Sec. Duque’s WHO Post”

#PINGterview: Sec. Duque, ‘Di Pa Lusot sa PhilHealth Mess; DPWH Lump Sums, Pondohan ang Universal Health Care?

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

Continue reading “#PINGterview: Sec. Duque, ‘Di Pa Lusot sa PhilHealth Mess; DPWH Lump Sums, Pondohan ang Universal Health Care?”

#PINGterview: Mahiwagang ‘Addendum’ ng DPWH sa 2021 Budget

In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* DPWH’s ‘addendum’ in the 2021 budget
* Ombudsman Martires’ policies on SALN, lifestyle check

Continue reading “#PINGterview: Mahiwagang ‘Addendum’ ng DPWH sa 2021 Budget”

On the Early Fighting over ‘Pork’ in the 2021 Budget

This early, we are already seeing the ugly effects of “pork.”

More than the possible delay in the passage of the 2021 national budget, any ugly squabble in plenary over the distribution of earmarks a.k.a. “pork” is exactly that – ugly.

When statesmanship goes out the window, our people’s respect towards the legislature as an institution as well as its individual members somehow dissipates.

Any way we look at it, it is sad and lamentable, to say the least.

Having said that, the total amount representing P135 billion covering 5,913 reappropriated items and P396 billion in lump sum appropriations lodged in the central office of the DPWH may need further clarification.

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.


A Whopping Half-Trillion Pesos and Counting: On Questionable Appropriations in the Proposed 2021 Budget

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.


#PINGterview: ‘Haggling’ in DPWH’s Budget for 2021?

In an interview on ANC, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* items in the proposed budget for 2021
* PhilHealth anomalies
* appointment of Cezar Mancao II to DICT

Continue reading “#PINGterview: ‘Haggling’ in DPWH’s Budget for 2021?”