HURRAY for Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, the "pork hunter." Year after year, he is microscopically scrutinizing the National Expenditure Program (NEP) or the executive budget submitted by Malacanang and deliberated in the House of Representatives. He, at great length, with due diligence pinpoints those insertions which are sources of graft. Pork barrels mostly for congressmen and certain senators. (Heaven forgives those who steal for what are intended for the poor and distraught, for the gates of hell are already in wait).
How do they prepare the budget? Let’s look first how do they do it in local governance. The general fund budget is prepared by the budget officer with the collaboration of the mayor's office and other departments. Each department has programmed expenditures and it is contained in the very thick Local Expenditure Program (LEP). This LEP is transmitted to the sanggunian and each member is provided a copy, given supposedly in October. The general fund budget contains program appropriations and obligations.
Once it will be presented in a plenary session, it is immediately referred to the committee on finance where hearings will be conducted. It is at this juncture that the Finance Committee chairman will invite department heads and explain their expenditures. It is very similar to what the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives do. After the hearings, it will be sent back to the plenary session for the second reading where debates and amendments take place till its approval on the third and final reading. As a councilor, either you belong to the majority or minority, it is incumbent upon each member to be meticulous in combing the budget, after all it is the taxpayers money. There’s nothing better having a sound fiscal management policy.
I served three separate terms, the Angeles City Council and, thank God, my long years in many board rooms of government and private corporations, I was able to self-taught myself how to crunch numbers with a solemn consideration in weeding out what are unnecessary. That experience helped me in good stead in performing my function as a member the city council.
The LEP has a budget message from the mayor. It is not the mayor himself who necessarily write the message but someone maybe from the budget office or his administrator. Unfortunately, the public have no entitlement of the thick LEP. It is in this regard, council sessions are open to anybody, which are normally being held once a week. The constituents should show interest and get a seat at the gallery. It is during the budget deliberations where arguments among the councilors take place. You might find it very interesting. And it will further show you where your tax money is being spent. And you will know whom you voted in the elections and if what their propaganda tarpaulins claimed.
The big bulk of incomes comes from the internal revenue allotment, Php million, business taxes and license, and real property taxes. The big bulk of expenditures is on salaries and wages which total to 45% percent of the LEP. Sometimes, it breaches the cap, but somehow the executive department can go on a roundabout fashion it will breach the threshold of 45 percent, and this is not permitted by law. Politics is the reason for this. The mayor hires hundreds if not thousands of job order employees who are his political wards.