Ping Lacson and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Sen. Ping Lacson has accused former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of inserting pork barrel in the proposed 2019 budget, with her district in Pampanga getting as much as a P2.4-billion allotment. The Supreme Court disallowed pork barrel in a 2013 ruling. The senator named another congressman, who later turned out to be Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.—a staunch Arroyo supporter—as the recipient of a P1.9-billion pork barrel for his own district. Arroyo and Andaya, Lacson said, were among the “blessed few” representatives whose constituencies were allocated much bigger funds than the P60 million promised by the Speaker to each of the 292 lawmakers in the House. On Friday, Andaya said Lacson had painted an incomplete picture, saying that 99 other House members actually received more funds than Arroyo. One congressman, whom Andaya would not identify, got as much as P8 billion in allotment. The Arroyo ally also said he did not see the need to explain to the Palace why Arroyo’s district was allotted a big amount, since the proposed national budget was approved by the entire chamber and not just by the Speaker. Lacson, meanwhile, noted that the proposed assistance to local governments was doubled by the House and the Senate without consulting the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Andaya countered that lawmakers wouldn’t have access to the P16billion funds since these would be directly managed by the DBM. There’s no need to seek permission from other government agencies, Andaya said, adding that Congress has the final say on the matter. But the issues raised by Lacson prompted the Senate to say that it might introduce changes in the proposed budget since the body supported the senator’s move for transparency.