Freedom of the media and transparency of government will get a premium under a Lacson presidency, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said Thursday.
Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, said there is no reason for the government to hide what it is doing if it is not involved in any wrongdoing.
“Una, ang freedom of the press hindi lang importante sa demokrasya. It is democracy itself (Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy. It is democracy itself),” he said at the first LACSON-SOTTO media forum.
First, the Commission on Audit is a constitutional body which is independent of the executive or legislative branches of government, and certainly not under the Office of the President of the Republic. It has a mandate to perform, and no one can dictate on them.
Second, COA findings and recommendations are public documents. Transparency dictates that the public must be informed of how public monies are spent.
That said, the President is out of line in publicly castigating the COA, which is just performing its mandate and responsibility to the people and the Constitution.
For its part, the COA should not be cowed by intimidating statements, even those coming from the Chief Executive. In fact, those in the COA should proceed with more vigor, courage and independence.
I don’t agree on anything that is not transparent, especially if it concerns the national budget. While the bicameral conference committee may have been reduced to a “Committee of Two,” it is not exactly the case.
In fact, I already instructed my staff to coordinate closely with the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) on whatever movements of funds before the final version of the bill is presented to the bicam members for our signatures and approval.
Also, I practically demanded that I be furnished with a copy of the details of the Senate version before the convening of the bicameral conference, as what we had until yesterday morning was only the summary of the Senate version.
Having said all that, we already found some realignments that may seem questionable, based on our preliminary examination. For instance, while some of my recommended slash from the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget was adopted, we also noticed at least P10 billion worth of infrastructure projects realigned within the same agency under the Senate version.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson renewed his call to fellow lawmakers for transparency, “particularly our amendments in the 2021 budget bill.”
Lacson stressed transparency is crucial to dispel suspicions of “compromises and personal interests in our proposed amendments.”
“If we have nothing to hide, we have to make our amendments public, as I have done in my case, so those amendments can be scrutinized by the media as well as the public. It is the mandate of Congress to make amendments to the budget bill; we cannot just adopt the National Expenditure Program in toto,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio Friday evening.
Citing the need for transparency, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson has made public the details of the institutional amendments he proposed in the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019.
Lacson expressed hope other proponents of amendments to the budget will do the same, to remove speculations that the bicameral conference committee is a venue for “horse trading” and compromises among legislators.
“In the spirit of transparency, I instructed my staff to make public all my amendments in the 2019 national budget. I hope all proponents will do the same to remove all suspicions that the bicameral conference is a venue for sneaky horse trading among legislators,” he said in a post on his Twitter account.
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: – need for transparency in the bicameral conference committee on the 2019 budget
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