Suspected budget ‘insertions’ stir up House

September 18, 2018

ARE there “insertions” amounting to P55 billion in the 2019 budget?

This is what some lawmakers wanted to know as they deferred the deliberation of the proposed 2019 national budget amounting to P3.757 trillion. The plenary session was adjourned yesterday without discussing the budget.

The alleged lump sum insertions were reportedly discovered by Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. and other solons close to Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Even Speaker Arroyo wanted these insertions removed, which were mostly allocations for the public works projects in different provinces.

A highly reliable source privy to the caucus, which started at 9 a.m. yesterday, said that among the favored representatives who would be getting lump sum allocations for their projects are Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernon and former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

These insertions were included in the committee report written by Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations Karlo Alexei Nograles.

Andaya and other solons present tried to settle the issue by asking Nograles to re-write the committee report by removing the alleged insertions.

Nograles denied these were insertions but legitimate allocations meant to benefit the people.

During the caucus, there was a shouting match between Andaya and Villafuerte, who is also insisting on the retention of the alleged insertions.

Villafuerte then accused Andaya of bullying.

On the part of the House leadership, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro said the House decided to defer the deliberations to give the solons more time to review the proposed budget.

“The proposed General Appropriations Fund 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,” Castro said in  a statement.

“Any allusion contrary to the real intention of the ongoing review of the budget is a misguided effort to deceive the public,” he added.