MANILA Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday vowed that he will not allow a "pork-to-pork" realignment of the controversial PHP75-billion additional fund "inserted" in the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Lacson made the statement following the Senate's move to delete the PHP75-billion allocation "inserted" by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) without the knowledge of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
During the budget deliberation of the DPWH's PHP555-billion budget on Monday, Lacson and Senate finance committee chair Loren Legarda agreed to scrap the PHP75-billion additional DPWH fund during the period of amendments. The agency also acceded to the proposal.
In an interview, Lacson said the Senate will stand its ground to realign the PHP75 billion to other key government projects, especially once the proposed 2019 national budget reaches the bicameral conference committee level.
"Medyo madugo yan pagdating sa bicam (It will be 'bloody' once the [budget bill] reaches bicam.) But as long as the Senate will stand our ground and we'll insist the PHP75 billion instead of allowing it to be retained by DPWH without knowing how to spend it. Mas maganda ilagay natin sa may paggagamitan na makabuluhan na mas mapakinabangan ng nakararami (It would be better if we could allocate it to other significant projects that would benefit more people)," he said.
"But we will make sure the PHP75 billion or part of that would not be a pork-to-pork realignment. Alam nyo itong GAA (General Appropriations Act) natin pagkagulo-gulo, nakakasira ng ulo, nakakangayat (You know, this GAA is really complicated. It causes headaches and weight loss.) Ganoon talaga ang labanan (That's how the battle is). But we have to do our job. Kung i-criticize tayo at may makakaaway tayo (If we get criticized or end up fighting), so be it. That's the way it goes," he added.
Lacson suggested that some of the PHP75 billion could be realigned to fund the implementation of the slope protection for the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Circumferential Road in the Cordillera region.
"So iniisip ko, if my other colleagues will allow kung magkano ang kailangan para maging passable and safe ang BLISTT project (So I was thinking if my colleagues will allow the needed funds to make the BLISTT project passable and safe)," Lacson said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency