From Rudy Romero’s column in the Manila Standard: Another Hero of the Year 2020 is Senator Panfilo Lacson. After his work on the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2021, he truly deserves to be called Mr. Budget. Over the years, the former police general from Cavite has made it his mission to be conversant with the nefarious operations – overpricing, lump-summing, insertions and concealment – associated with the structuring of the national budget, especially its public-works portion.
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 DZRH, Sen. Lacson answers questions on:
– gift or curse of social media
– advice to voters as the May 13 midterm elections draw closer
– Senate Bill 2219, which allows direct people’s participation in preparing the budget
– independence of the Senate in the 18th Congress
Mas maraming mata, mas madaling mabibisto ang tangkang pangungupit ng mga makakapal ang mukhang mambabatas na nais magpakasasa sa kaban ng bayan.
Ito ang pangunahing adhikain ng Senate Bill 2219 na inihain ni Senador Panfilo M. Lacson, na nagpapahintulot sa publiko na makapanood nang personal at makasali sa talakayan ng mga mambabatas sa pambansang badyet.
Layunin ng panukala na magkaroon ng karapatan ang publiko na malaman ang ginagawa ng mambabatas sa badyet mula sa komite ng Senado at Kamara hanggang sa bicameral conference committee.
“Now is the time for Congress to recognize the importance of the direct participation by people’s organizations and non-government organizations in the budget deliberation,” paliwanag ni Lacson sa kanyang panukala.
“We should institutionalize the practice of legislature-civil society collaboration in order to achieve a people-oriented budget as well as establish transparency and accountability in the budget process,” dagdag ng mambabatas.
Taxpayers themselves will soon serve as the biggest safeguard against pork barrel being sneaked into the national budget, with a bill filed by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson.
Senate Bill 2219 institutionalizes the direct participation of people’s organizations and non-government organizations in the preparation of the spending bill.
“Now is the time for Congress to recognize the importance of the direct participation by people’s organizations and non-government organizations in the budget deliberation,” Lacson said in his bill.
“We should institutionalize the practice of legislature-civil society collaboration in order to achieve a people-oriented budget as well as establish transparency and accountability in the budget process,” he added.
Dahil mulat na ang publiko sa pag-abuso sa kaban ng bayan bunga ng patuloy na pag-iral ng pork barrel sa mga mambabatas, lumilinaw na ang pag-asang magamit ang pondong napupunta sa mga ito sa tama at dapat na pagkagastusan.
Ayon kay Senador Panfilo Lacson, itutuloy niya ang kanyang krusada laban sa pork barrel at ang susunod na yugto nito ay ang kampanyang masunod ang tamang budget process upang matukoy ang mga prayoridad ng pagkakalooban ng pondo.
“It is high time we eliminate the obvious disconnect between the needs and priorities of the countryside local government units and the expenditure program at the national level, due to the absence of consultations,” banggit ni Lacson.
After seeing some progress this year, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson is eyeing more headway against “pork” and other flaws in the warped budgeting process that has allowed it to thrive.
Lacson said making sure the budgeting process is followed properly will prevent “pork” by having district representatives in Congress take part in planning at the local level, instead of inserting projects after Malacanang has already submitted its version of the budget – the National Expenditure Program – to Congress.
“It is high time we eliminate the obvious disconnect between the needs and priorities of the countryside local government units and the expenditure program at the national level, due to the absence of consultations,” Lacson said.
“Because of this disconnect, district representatives – instead of attending and participating in the formulation of local development plans within their districts, where they are members of the Local Development Councils – opt to arbitrarily make insertions during the authorization phase, without due regard to the needs and priorities of the LGUs within their districts,” he added.
Even during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he persistently pitched for a six-month deadline to solve the drug problem in the country, I already pointed out it was impossible. It remains as impossible as saying he can stop crime.
After two years, it may be wise and prudent for his top advisers to go back to the drawing board and reassess what they did wrong and what they are doing right, not only in the fight against crime and corruption, which is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration’s deliverables, but in the economic sector as well.
For one, the peace-and-order strategy is long on crime suppression and short on prevention. It should be the other way around. We prevent crimes, and those that cannot be prevented from being committed must be suppressed with solid solution through efficient investigative work and techniques.
On the revenue side, the TRAIN law needs to be revisited and amended, and the President, with all his strong influence over Congress, must put his foot down on vested interests of some members of both houses.
On the expenditure side, a.k.a. the General Appropriations Act, the same influence is suggested to minimize wastage of the government’s hard-earned resources by strictly adhering to the existing jurisprudence outlawing pork barrel, which is still evident among selected members of Congress, a few of whom enjoyed as high as nine-figure insertions during the last two budget years under the Duterte administration.