MANILA House appropriations committee vice chairman Ruffy Biazon on Tuesday said there is "nothing irregular" about congressional insertions made by lawmakers in the 2019 national budget.
Biazon made the reaction amid reports that there was some PHP55-billion in insertions made in the proposed PHP3.757-trillion national budget for next year, which stalled the plenary debates on the proposed measure.
In an interview, Biazon said lawmakers can introduce amendments or "insertions" to President Rodrigo Duterte's budget proposal as long as they do not increase the total appropriations proposed.
Biazon also debunked the misconception of the public that any congressional insertion is considered "pork" barrel funds.
"To the common person, anything na ni-insert ng Congress ang tawag nila ay 'pork' (that was inserted by Congress is called 'pork'). As far as congressmen are concerned, this is a regular course of our duty. Nag-o-originate ang allocation sa House (All allocations originate from the House)," Biazon said.
"[The] common definition (of insertion) is something na (that is) initiated and proposed by members of Congress outside what the President's budget proposal is... It can come from any stage of the (budget) process, pwedeng (and can be done) during the course of deliberations... There's nothing irregular about it. That's the job of congressmen. Legally, wala akong nakikitang mali pa sa insertion (I don't see anything wrong with the insertions)," he added.
According to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department's "A Legislator's Guide in Analyzing the National Budget", new items of expenditure may be introduced during the budget authorization phase, provided that these do not increase the size of the budget as submitted by the President.
Andaya earlier said the House leadership is looking into the alleged insertions made in the 2019 budget.
"With the aid of a lot of the members, we are slowly zeroing in on those so-called insertions," Andaya said.
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro said the proposed measure is being reviewed to make sure that the budget of the President, which is certainly for the benefit of the Filipino and for the good of the country, is protected and delivered to the Filipinos.
Any allusion contrary to the real intention of the ongoing review of the budget is a misguided effort to deceive the public, Castro added. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency