Lacson says ‘several congressmen got P5-B ‘pork’ under 2017 budget’

No-less than Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said several congressmen from Mindanao allegedly received P5 billion in pork barrel funds under the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA). Although the Senator did not identify any of the supposed congressmen involved, he was quoted saying: “Change is coming? Maybe,  it’s pork allocations changing hands from LP (Liberal party) congressmen to those from Mindanao,” As such, Lacson stressed in an emailed statement that some congressmen from the ARMM supposedly came to see him in his office to plead their case in a meeting during the budget plenary debates. In reaction, he said at least two of his colleagues commented that the congressmen were asking for too much; considering Senators are only given P300 million. Furthermore, Lacson said he did not submit his P300-million list of projects; citing that Senators Vicente C. Sotto and Francis N. Pangilinan also informed him on separate occasions that they too did not submit their project lists. However, the Senator clarified that he is not implying that those who submitted projects under the 2017 national budget would get commissions from contractors. “What I’m trying to say is Filipinos are made to believe PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) is dead after the SC (Supreme Court) ruling in 2013.

I am not stupid. Filipinos are not stupid. They are just resigned, I think,” Lacson was quoted saying. Aside from this, Lacson noted in the same statement that the the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regained some P8 billion “pork” in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2017 on top of P497 million at the expense of the country’s calamity fund. He mentioned that apparently “the P8.557 billion plus another P497 million added to the budget of the DPWH, which increased by P9.054 billion (from P445.766 billion to P454.721 billion), came from the huge cuts suffered by the NDRRMF (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund) or Calamity Fund under the Special Purpose Fund.” With this, Lacson disclosed the increase in the DPWH budget for this year resulted to the reduction of he Special Purpose Fund’s original budget of P37.255 billion under the national expenditure program to P15.755 billion in the GAA, or less than P21.5 billion. Expressing sadness in the thought of Filipinos specially those victims of recent calamities (starting with Pablo, Yolanda, Karen, Lawin, Nina, to name some) for political favors and alliances, Lacson said most of the victims might be left to fend for themselves instead of getting sufficient assistance from the government. The details of the DPWH budget and other agencies are not yet out, he added. Meanwhile, Malacañang downplayed Lacson’s allegations; stressing that the 2017 budget is compliant with the Supreme Court decisions on PDAF and DAP. As explained by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is solely responsible for identified projects – from repair and reconstruction of permanent structures to communities or areas affected by man-made and natural calamities. Abella further said President Rodrigo Duterte is not the type to give favors even to allies.
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