Lies? Spins? Fake news? Let’s set the record straight and separate FACT from FAKE.
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Pork and the National Budget:
* Is Sen. Lacson holding the budget hostage due to a ‘vendetta’ against Speaker Gloria Arroyo?
* Is the House doing something unconstitutional by itemizing the budget after ratification?
* Did the Senate cripple the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program with its actions on the budget?
* Does Sen. Lacson really have his own pork insertions?
* Does Sen. Lacson favor lump-sum appropriations despite his stand against pork?
* Does Sen. Lacson want President Rodrigo Duterte to fail?
On Pork and the National Budget
❌FAKE: “Sen. Lacson is holding the P3.757-trillion budget for 2019 hostage due to his “vendetta” against House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”
1. Sen. Lacson’s actions are not about any congressman or senator. Rather, his actions are about his crusade against the pork barrel system and about the national budget, which is the lifeblood of our country.
2. Sen. Lacson already made peace with Speaker Arroyo. They shook hands while taking part in the bicameral conference committee meeting to tackle the National ID bill in May 2018.
3. Sen. Lacson made it clear that while he has “forgiven all my tormentors for the past nine years under (Mrs. Arroyo’s) administration,” and that he and Mrs. Arroyo are at peace with each other, “there’s no saying I will not also [criticize her] kung may nakikitang against my advocacy.”
4. Sen. Lacson has also spoken out against other personalities involved in pork and other wrongdoing, even those who he considers friends.
5. Sen. Lacson raised questions about the post-ratification tweaks made by the House leadership to the budget bill because such an action would violate the 1987 Constitution‘s Art. VI, Sec. 26, Paragraph 2: “Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto SHALL be allowed.” Thus, having Senate President Vicente Sotto III sign the bill with the post-ratification tweaks would have made him prone to being charged for falsification.
6. In the case of the post-ratification tampering by the House leadership of the DOH’s HPEF funds – where Speaker Arroyo’s allies got P25 million while those who did not vote for her got just P8 million, Sen. Lacson got his information from House members who noticed the discrepancy. Sen. Lacson would also learn later that P72.319 billion was slashed from the DPWH’s MFO 1 and 2, which covers the administration’s “Build Build Build” program. The projects under the MFO (Major Final Output) had already been planned and vetted.
❌FAKE: “There is nothing unconstitutional or illegal in the House leadership’s post-ratification ‘itemizing’ of the 2019 budget.”
1. The House of Representatives’ talking heads are obfuscating the issue to confuse the public that they merely “itemized” what was discussed and adopted in the bicam, when in fact, they actually “realigned” several items which do not at all reflect the agreed provisions incorporated in the bicameral report.
2. There was a net increase of P95.1 billion in the House of Representatives’ realignments, including a slashed P72.319 billion from the DPWH’s Major Final Output 1 and 2. The House leadership also rearranged/realigned P79.7 billion from several congressional districts to the other districts, and parked P70 billion after removing them from 87 district engineering offices to the DPWH central office in a veiled effort to conceal large “pork insertions” of some congressmen.
❌FAKE: “The Senate threatens to cripple the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program when it ‘unilaterally’ removed P17 billion for right-of-way projects for the 2019 budget of the DPWH.”
1. During the deliberations on the 2019 DPWH budget, Sen. Lacson raised the matter of RROW appropriations, including its implementation. It was during the interpellations that the DPWH disclosed, through Senate finance panel chairperson Loren Legarda, that there are still funds for RROW from its FY 2018 appropriations that have yet to be utilized, and the DPWH said it does not need P20 billion for 2019. Thus, Sen. Lacson submitted as an amendment to reduce the DPWH RROW budget.
2. It is the House leadership that threatened to cripple the “Build, Build, Build” program when it slashed P72.319 billion from the DPWH’s Major Final Output 1 and 2.
❌FAKE: “Sen. Lacson has ‘pork’ too, having proposed his own insertions to the 2019 budget.”
1. What Sen. Lacson proposed were institutional amendments, which pertain to programs and projects that have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from the implementing agencies concerned. Such amendments are proposed by lawmakers who find merit in them after vetting with the relevant agencies. Sen. Lacson posted a list of his institutional amendments online, in the spirit of transparency. He has also challenged fellow lawmakers to do the same.
2. In contrast, individual amendments pertain to projects based mainly on lawmakers’ intervention and are considered legislators’ pet projects. In most cases, these do not involve consultations with the implementing agencies concerned, nor are they part of the Local Development Plans of the Local Government Units.
❌FAKE: “Sen. Lacson says he is against pork, yet favors lump sum appropriations, as shown by his suggestion to President Duterte during their meeting in Malacanang last March 12.”
1. What Sen. Lacson suggested during the March 12 meeting was that the budget bill as ratified by both houses last Feb. 8, even if it contains lump sums and has no itemization yet, be the one enrolled, so the President can itemize or do line-item veto.
2. The Senate cannot agree to the version of the budget with the post-ratification tweaking, because it violates the Constitution’s Art. VI Sec. 26 Paragraph 2: “Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed.”
3. Sen. Lacson’s suggestion was favorably endorsed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Dominguez III to President Duterte as a practical and logical approach to break the impasse, especially when Sen. Lacson informed the President about the House of Representatives substantially slashing the P72.319-billion DPWH appropriations for the agency’s MFO1 and MFO2 (Major Final Output), which will have negative implications on the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. This is contrary to Rep. Castro’s claim that Sen. Lacson’s suggestion did not sit well with the President.
❌FAKE: “Sen. Lacson wants President Rodrigo Duterte to fail.”
1. As early as 2016, Sen. Lacson has said he wants President Duterte to succeed “because like him and most Filipinos, I also love my country.”
2. Sen. Lacson has repeatedly pointed out the post-ratification tweaks by the House leadership to the budget bill will render it unconstitutional.