THE incoming House leadership on Wednesday denied that it is planning to revive the so-called pork barrel funds through lump sum allocations of lawmakers.
Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez said no members of Congress will be entitled to their usual district allocation since the Supreme Court (SC) already declared that all lump sum allocations are unconstitutional.
Alvarez made the statement in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s pronouncement that the Pork Barrel system is still present in the legislative branch.
The presumptive speaker of the upcoming 17th Congress clarified that lawmakers will only be allowed to propose projects needed in their districts, so they can be included in the line budgeting of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The SC ruling prohibits lawmakers from intervening or participating in any of the post-budgeting stages of a project’s execution.
Alvarez said the function of identifying priority projects is inherent in members of the House of Representatives because “the people go directly to us to tell us what projects are badly needed by their communities.”
“This is the reason why the framers of our Constitution made sure that budget-setting starts at the House,” he said. “We, congressmen, are at ground zero, so to speak,” said Alvarez
The lawmaker from Davao del Norte also mentioned that the budget for the projects approved would be given to the agencies of the government that will implement them.
Alvarez said that the misimpression of Lacson may have arisen from the P80 million cap that had been proposed for each legislative district per year, divided between infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, school buildings) and non-infrastructure expenditures like medicines.
“Putting a cap on project costs is realistic because public funds are limited and thus must be used judiciously. We want bang for the buck to get the most benefit for our people,” he said.
He said there is no truth to the claim that every congressman will be given his "due.’"
“We in government cannot take or even consider a single centavo of taxpayers’ money as our due. Corruption has no place under this administration.”
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will submit to the House the proposed P3.3-trillion national budget for 2017 right after President Rodrigo Duterte’ State of the Nation Address on July 25. (Sunnex)