EVEN the opposition bloc in the House of Representatives maintained that the proposed 2017 national budget has no pork.
The House “Legitimate” Eight Minority bloc admitted that they too proposed projects for their respective districts, however they were not assured the projects would be funded.
No less than House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that each lawmaker are entitled to P50 million for hard projects (infrastructure) and P30 million for soft (education and medical assistance).
The P80 million allocation for solons’ projects is higher than the P70 million pork barrel in the previous Congresses. The pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was scrapped because it was declared as unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a veteran solon in scrutinizing the budget, said he sees no wrong with the lawmakers proposing projects especially if these will benefit their constituents.
“There is no violation of the Supreme Court decision if we proposed projects. Entitlement is equal to all House members,” Lagman said.
Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice admitted that he participated in the determination of public works needed in his district and he proposed these to the Department of Public Works and Highways for implementation.
Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno denied reports that each lawmaker will be given P80 million worth of projects in the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget, the first under the Duterte presidency.
Diokno clarified that lawmakers are free to request for funding of their pet projects.
Lagman and Erice added that there is no discrepancy or even corruption in this process because all of the project outlays would be incorporated in the General Appropriations Act and that there will be no post-budget approval to be done by members of Congress.