Lacson: Arroyo allies' districts get big 'pork' in 2019 budget

MANILA, Philippines – Congressional districts which received huge insertions in the House-approved 2019 budget have one "pattern," according to Senator Panfilo Lacson: their representatives are "close" to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"Ang pattern makikita mo pagka na-identify mo sino ang congressman sa district na medyo malaki at biglang lumobo. Isa lang ang common denominator: malapit sa Speaker," Lacson said on Sunday, December 9, in a DZBB interview.

(You'll see a pattern once you identify the congressmen in the districts that received huge amounts. They have one common denominator: they're close to the Speaker.)

Lacson earlier revealed that Arroyo's 2nd District of Pampanga received fund insertions amounting to P2.4 billion, but said he could not directly say if it were Arroyo's fault.

He also pointed out that the 1st District of Camarines Sur, represented by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, received P1.9 billion.

Now, the senator said he also discovered more districts – in Bohol, Surigao, and other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao – which received big allocations in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or national budget.

Lacson, however, said he could not name the lawmakers who made the insertions, as the budget bill only identifies the districts.

"District sa Bohol, may distrito sa Surigao.... Itong isang distrito sa Mindanao. Halos so far ang nakikita namin, kulang-kulang dalawang billion, isang 1.5 billion. 'Yung isang distrito sa Visayas halos gano'n din, papalo siya ng P1 billion," the senator said.

(There's a district in Bohol, in Surigao. There's also a district in Mindanao. One, almost P2 billion, the other P1.5 billion. One district in the Visayas also got the same, almost P1 billion.)

"Ang puwede ko lang i-identify na sigurado ako, 'yung distrito, kasi nasa budget eh. 'Di naman nakalagay kung sino'ng gumawa ng insertion eh. Ngayon, bahala na lang kayo magkaroon ng conclusion," he added.

(What I can only surely identify are the districts because those are in the budget. It wasn't indicated there who made the insertions. Now, it's up to you guys to come up with a conclusion.)

Senators are not keen on rushing the passage of the budget by year-end. The House's late passage of the GAB delayed its transmittal to the Senate.

If the proposed P3.757-trillion budget would not be passed by December 31, the government would have to operate under a reenacted budget until at least the first week of February 2019. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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