SENATE President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said there is no pork in the P3.35-trillion 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

But he said there are pet projects that the lawmakers have identified for inclusion in the national budget. Before, they need only insert the budget and later on identify the project.

So, they no longer call it pork. It’s now a pet project, more likely a kind of pre-cooked pork.

Senator Pimentel said there’s nothing wrong with lawmakers identifying pet projects for inclusion in the national budget for funding.

What is barred in the 2013 High Court ruling that the pork barrel system is unconstitutional is for lawmakers to interfere in their implementation.

That’s why the pork had to be pre-cooked. It’s only a pet project, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Lacson may have been seeing things when he insisted he knows pork when he sees one.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said this year’s budget is “cholesterol-free.” “There are no pork barrel items in the 2017 budget,” he said.

It’s time to ask Senator Ping, is there lean or cholesterol-free pork?

Abella dismissed Lacson’s allegation of a conspiracy between the executive branch and Congress in reviving lump-sum allocations under the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Pimentel also denied Lacson’s claim that Malacañang had asked senators to submit a list of projects amounting to P300 million each for inclusion in this year’s annual budget.

Pimentel said he and Lacson had a “technical difference” in the definition of pork barrel. There’s always a definition favoring the lawmakers.

Pimentel said he accepted the court’s ruling prohibiting lawmakers from interfering in the implementation of their pet projects after the budget law had been passed.

“That is the act that we should guard against—not that lawmakers have their ideas or proposals incorporated into the budget,” Pimentel said.

Would Lacson, now the lone voice in Congress against the pork barrel, watch over the lawmakers’ pet projects?