Lawmakers’pet projects

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION - ED­DIE O BARRITA

SENATE Pres­i­dent Aquilino “Koko” Pi­mentel III said there is no pork in the P3.35-tril­lion 2017 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act ( GAA) .

But he said there are pet projects that the lawmakers have iden­ti­fied for in­clu­sion in the na­tional bud­get. Be­fore, they need only in­sert the bud­get and later on iden­tify the project.

So, they no longer call it pork. It’s now a pet project, more likely a kind of pre-cooked pork.

Sen­a­tor Pi­mentel said there’s noth­ing wrong with lawmakers iden­ti­fy­ing pet projects for in­clu­sion in the na­tional bud­get for fund­ing.

What is barred in the 2013 High Court rul­ing that the pork bar­rel sys­tem is un­con­sti­tu­tional is for lawmakers to in­ter­fere in their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

That’s why the pork had to be pre-cooked. It’s only a pet project, Sen. Pan­filo “Ping” Lac­son.

Lac­son may have been see­ing things when he in­sisted he knows pork when he sees one.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Ernesto Abella said this year’s bud­get is “choles­terol-free.” “There are no pork bar­rel items in the 2017 bud­get,” he said. It’s time to ask Sen­a­tor Ping, is there lean or choles­terol-free pork?

Abella dis­missed Lac­son’s al­le­ga­tion of a con­spir­acy be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive branch and Congress in re­viv­ing lump-sum al­lo­ca­tions un­der the graft-rid­den Pri­or­ity Devel­op­ment As­sis­tance Fund ( PDAF) .

Pi­mentel also de­nied Lac­son’s claim that Mala­cañang had asked sen­a­tors to sub­mit a list of projects amount­ing to P300 mil­lion each for in­clu­sion in this year’s an­nual bu dget .

Pi­mentel said he and Lac­son had a “tech­ni­cal dif­fer­ence” in the def­i­ni­tion of pork bar­rel. There’s al­ways a def­i­ni­tion fa­vor­ing the lawmakers.

Pi­mentel said he ac­cepted the court’s rul­ing pro­hibit­ing lawmakers from in­ter­fer­ing in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of their pet projects af­ter the bud­get law had been passed.

“That is the act that we should guard against— not that lawmakers have their ideas or pro­pos­als in­cor­po­rated into the bud­get,” Pi­mentel said.

Would Lac­son, now the lone voice in Congress against the pork bar­rel, watch over the lawmakers’ pet projects?

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