THE proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year would be free from "pork barrel," a Palace official guaranteed Friday, February 8.
The assurance came as Congress is slated to pass the 2019 General Appropriations bill on Friday afternoon.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte would carefully scrutinize "each and every item" of the proposed budget to remove possible pork barrel.
Nograles said the public can be assured of "clean" budget that will be approved by Duterte and spent by the national government for this year.
"Everything is legal here because the last we would want to do is to question it in the Supreme Court," the Cabinet official said.
"We want this budget clean and we want this budget implemented so that we all know and understand how important the budget is in boosting to our economic growth and translating that to programs, activities and project that will redound to the benefit of our citizens," he added.
The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget, pending the passage of the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2019.
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday, February 5, asked Duterte to veto the "pork barrel" inserted in the proposed 2019 budget, including the alleged multi-billion peso worth of projects earmarked to House lawmakers.
On Thursday, February 7, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President would only use the presidential veto power to remove the alleged insertions in the proposed budget for this year, if necessary.
"The President is a lawyer. He knows his law. If he thinks that that is in violation of the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court, then he will do what is right," Panelo said Thursday. (SunStar Philippines)