(UPDATED) A youth partylist group believes the threat of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to give "zero budget" to opposition lawmakers is proof that pork still exists in the 2018 national budget.
Alvarez on Thursday urged lawmakers to support federalism as those opposing it will suffer budget loss.
"Yung ibang probinsya ayaw nilang makisama, o ‘di zero sa budget. Ayaw ko rin, hindi ba? Alangan namang kayo kasama, 'yung leaders nila ayaw sumama. Alangan namang pantay?" he told thousands of new members of the PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino- Lakas ng Bayan) in Iloilo.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said Alvarez' statement confirms the existence of pork even against a Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional.
"Kabataan Partylist vehemently condemns not only the existence of pork barrel in the national budget despite having declared unconstitutional years ago but also the outrageous use of threse funds as political leverage to bully and threaten the opposition," a statement from the group reads.
"We reiterate that public funds should be directly allocated to infrastructure, health, housing, education, and other social services," it added.
While Malacañang on Saturday said it will not meddle with Congress on this.
"Hindi kami manghihimasok sa desisyon ng Kongreso. Yun po ay deklarasyon ni Speaker Alvarez at nirerespeto po namin yan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
(We will not meddle in the Congress decision. It is Speaker Alvarez declaration and we respect that)
Roque said that although Malacañang respects the pronouncement of the House Speaker, it is doubtful that the solons budget will get slashed.
"Meron din po tayong mga umiiral na batas. Yung batas na nagsasabi na nag IRA (internal revenue allotment) po ay automatically disbursed," he said.
(We have our existing laws. Like the IRA law which automatically disburses budget)
He noted that it also needs a nod from both the chambers of the Congress.
"Sa amin po, mahirap matuloy kasi nga para magka-zero budget, dapat sumangguni ang senado at ang kamara de representante," Roque added.
(For us, it will be difficult because you will need the Senate and House of Representatives’ nod to make it zero budget)
Elago urged the youth to fight against tyranny - "or else face another decade with a madman on the loose."
In December last year, Alvarez made a similar pronouncement after lawmakers discovered that the budget for the infrastructure projects in their respective provinces have been slashed from the General Appropriations Fund.
Alvarez said that the funds, supposedly for the benefit of the opposition solons' constituents, were reallocated to the free college education and the salary increase of police and soldiers. (Keith Calayag/SunStar Philippines)