Ar­royo urged to ex­plain district fund al­lo­ca­tion in 2019 bud­get

Gulf Times - - PHILIPPINES - By Ralph Vil­lanueva

Mala­canang has said Speaker Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo should ex­plain the P2.4bn bud­get given to her district un­der the pro­posed 2019 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act.

The P2.4bn last-minute re­align­ments in Ar­royo’s al­lo­ca­tion was raised by Se­na­tor Pan­filo Lac­son dur­ing a Se­nate hear­ing on next year’s bud­get, tag­ging it as pork bar­rel.

While he did not name the law­maker, Lac­son’s pre­sen­ta­tion bared the names of the towns un­der Ar­royo’s Pam­panga’s Se­cond District.

In a news brief­ing, Palace spokesman Sal­vador Panelo said the for­mer pres­i­dent should ex­plain the re­align­ments.

“I think so, given the amount in­volved, given the re­ac­tion of peo­ple like you. The cit­i­zens would like an ex­pla­na­tion,” Panelo added.

He, how­ever, said Mala­canang will not ask Ar­royo for ex­pla­na­tion any­more be­cause the furore it caused is enough al­ready.

“The fact that some quar­ters are re­act­ing, it be­hoves those who are in­volved in the re­align­ments to re­spond to the prac­tice of some el­e­ments of so­ci­ety,” Panelo added.

Ar­royo, ac­cord­ing to the Palace of­fi­cial, should ex­plain why the al­lo­ca­tion is that large, com­pared to that for other prov­inces.

If the amount of the re­align­ments was jus­ti­fied and the money is spent where it should be spent, Panelo said there would be no is­sue.

“What is im­por­tant to me is whether the al­lo­ca­tion is geared for the ben­e­fit of the con­stituents where they are as­signed,” he added.

“For as long as the money is spent where they should be spent, but if the money is go­ing to be spent out­side of the real pur­pose, then it’s cor­rup­tion and we will not al­low that,” Panelo said.

He added that Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte may ex­er­cise his veto power if he deemed that the al­lo­ca­tion is ques­tion­able.

“He will do so with re­gard to ev­ery­thing that is in vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion,” he added. Aside from Ar­royo’s district, Lac­son said a law­maker from Ca­marines Sur would also be get­ting P1.9bn worth of projects next year.

Last week, Ca­marines Sur rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rolando An­daya Jr, also the House ma­jor­ity leader, ad­mit­ted that con­gress­men and se­na­tors were al­lot­ted mil­lions of pe­sos for their projects un­der the pro­posed P3.7tn na­tional bud­get for 2019.

He said this amount was part of the P51.792bn that was pre­vi­ously tagged as “lump sums with no de­tails,” and had caused a se­ries of de­lays in de­lib­er­a­tions on the pro­posed 2019 bud­get.

Pork bar­rel, or the Pri­or­ity Devel­op­ment As­sis­tance Fund, was deemed un­con­sti­tu­tional by the Supreme Court a few years ago.

Ar­royo, who took over the speak­er­ship ear­lier this year, has had trou­ble with cor­rup­tion in the past.

She was de­tained in a hos­pi­tal for al­most four years for plun­der over her al­leged mis­use of P366mn in funds of the Philip­pine Char­ity Sweep­stakes Of­fice (PCSO).

In 2016, the Supreme Court ac­quit­ted Ar­royo and for­mer PCSO board mem­ber Ben­jamin Aguas.

Speaker Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo

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