By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
SENATOR Panfilo M. Lacson on Friday claimed that the delay in the transmittal of the P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019 to Malacañang was due to individual projects still being submitted by congressmen to the House of Representatives leadership even after Congress has ratified the measure.
“If you notice, the budget bill has not been transmitted to Malacañang in spite of the bicam report being ratified by both houses of Congress more than two weeks ago,” Mr. Lacson said in a statement.
“I have it on good information that the House leadership is still waiting for several congressmen to finalize the submission of their individual projects. This is not to mention that insertions and realignments were made even after the bicameral report ratification,” he added.
House Appropriations chair Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. was sought for comment as of this reporting.
Both chambers of Congress have approved the 2019 national budget early February before it went on its Feb. 9 to May 19 break for the May 13 midterm elections. The budget bill has yet to be signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as the government continues to operate on a reenacted budget.
Mr. Lacson, one of the vice-chairpersons of the Senate committee on finance, also claimed that some lawmakers had conveyed to him that allocations, which he described as pork barrel, for at least 60 congressmen were removed after Congress ratified the budget bill.
He said the actions of the House of Representatives was a “clear abuse of discretion” and an “utter disregard” of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the so-called “pork barrel” as unconstitutional.
“While technically speaking, it may not constitute post-legislation enactment since the President has not yet signed the budget measure, we can see clear abuse of discretion especially if done without the concurrence of the Senate,” Mr. Lacson said.
“This latest caper that the House leadership is trying to pull off may also constitute violation of the 1987 Constitution…. Whatever it is, these are things that they do for greed. It’s a shame and revolting, to say the least,” he added.
Congress’ deliberations on the 2019 national budget have been hounded by issues about each chamber’s amendments in the bill. Lawmakers have been accused of “inserting” allocations in the budget being tagged as “pork.”