SEN. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has emerged as the number one pork spotter in the Senate.
He first saw the P8-billion pork barrel tucked in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 2017 budget during deliberations in the Senate.
He had it reallocated to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to allow for free tuition.
Lacson, the prime critic of congressional pork, said the P8 billion for free tuition in SUCs stayed, but it was restored to Mindanao solons' pork via the DPWH by slashing the budgets of disaster agencies.
A Supreme Court ruling killed the pork barrel in 2013, calling it unconstitutional.
Perhaps the pork barrel is really a cat masquerading as pork. Look, the pork lives. It seems the pork barrel, like the cat, has nine lives.
Lacson said the DPWH regained the P8 billion and got an additional P497 million at the expense of the Calamity Fund. The DPWH fund rose by P9.054 billion from P445.766 billion to P454.721 billion.
But the Calamity Funds suffered cuts, from P37.2 billion to P15.7 billion, he said.
Now is the best time to resort to prayers. Let’s pray fewer typhoons or other calamities will hit the country this year.
Lacson said most of the victims of recent calamities starting with Pablo, Yolanda, Karen, Lawin and Nina might be left to fend for themselves instead of getting sufficient assistance from the government.
“Yolanda for example still needs at least P100 billion to fully recover,” Lacson said.
Well, some things may have to be sacrificed for the sake of the pork barrel.
Lacson said Filipinos are made to believe that PDAF is dead after the SC ruling in 2013. But after he and his staff scrutinized the budget books year in and year out, he said, “I know pork when I see it.”
“I believe our people, especially our taxpayers, should know the real score behind all these pretenses and denials about the existence of pork,” he said.
But the taxpayers needed a Lacson to spot the pork barrel for them.