MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang thinks House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should explain to the public the supposed P2.4-billion allotment for her district in the 2019 national budget as amended by the House of Representatives.
"I think so, given the amount involved," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, December 6, when asked if Malacañang thinks Arroyo owes the people an explanation.
He was holding a news briefing in the Palace.
"It behooves those who are involved to respond to the protests of some elements of society," he continued.
Panelo said there is no need for Malacañang to send a letter to Arroyo formally asking for an explanation, since public outcry should be enough of a reason for the House Speaker to do so.
Asked if the P2.4-billion insertion, as reported by Senator Panfilo Lacson, is pork barrel and must thus be removed from the budget, Panelo said the lawmakers involved might be able to justify the insertion.
"If the Speaker or whoever is involved in the realignment can justify why there is a need to place that kind of amount in that particular area and the other areas do not need it, then that could be justified. But if the other areas need that kind of money and you're depriving them of that, then there's something wrong with that," said Panelo.
Lacson had revealed on Wednesday, December 5, a partial list of supposed pork barrel insertions, which included amounts for road projects located in towns within Arroyo's 2nd District of Pampanga.
But the senator could not "absolutely say" the budget insertions were Arroyo's doing. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.