SENATOR Loren Legarda challenged Senator Panfilo Lacson to raise the issue of "pork barrel" in the 2018 national budget before the Supreme Court to resolve the issue and avoid further debates on the matter.
Legarda said whatever the decision of the highest tribunal will be, she will abide by it without questions.
Elevating the issue to the SC, Legarda said, will stop the noise and accusations being hurled against her and at least for everyone
specifically Congress to have complete clarity about in order issue and to avoid debates among them in the next budget hearing.
Legarda said the intercession of the SC will help to prevent future conflicts in the yearly budget deliberations.
In the SC ruling, it says that any lump sum funds which allow lawmakers to have discretion on their deployment after approval by Congress were considered as pork barrel and violated the Constitution.
But Lacson said he will continue to scrutinize the budget as he challenged Legarda to give to the people what belongs to them in full.
Lacson had urged honesty and truthfulness insisting that the money of the Filipino taxpayers belongs to them.
The duty of Congress, he said is to ensure that the money of the Filipino people is being spent properly without Congress using their
money for their own gain through kickbacks.
Lacson vowed to continue fighting pork barrel insertions by his colleagues in Congress and to scrutinize the proposed budget for any pork barrel that may be inserted once he gets hold of the budget
The former Philippine National Police chief turned senator said pork barrel distorts public spending towards the benefit of its sponsors instead of benefitting the public for which it should be specifically used for.
“Which is the very reason why the Supreme Court disallowed pork barrel in the budget,” Lacson said as he vowed to continue to be the watchdog and to guard against abuses in the use of public funds.
Lacson revealed that all senators including Legarda, in last year's (2017) budget, had agreed to realign the P8.3 billion and other lump sum appropriations in the 2017 GAA to free tuition of poor and deserving children who cannot afford to pay their school expenses.
Lacson further said that there is another P4.8 billion pork –like item in the P3.767 trillion budget for 2018 that will answer the problem in funding the State universities and colleges (SUCs) recently signed by
President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lacson said that, in general, the so-called pork barrel is allegedly being used by some legislators who sponsor the projects to gain monetary benefits to prop up their political career.
He further explained that usually pork barrel will go to the highest commission giving contractor or project.
Lacson was apparently not amused by his colleague’s earlier remark to reporters that he should point out to the pork barrel in the
P3.767 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for next year after she already told senators in a caucus to submit P300 million worth of pet projects.
The House of Representatives is expected to transmit its version of the 2018 GAA to the Senate anytime soon. (Sunstar Philippines)