MANILA – Members of the House of Representatives have reportedly made billions worth of insertions in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Lacson claimed that there were billions of pesos in lump sum funds that House members inserted in the General Appropriations Bill which were “vaguely described.”
“Our preliminary scrutiny of the last minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.2 billion that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.3 billion that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning,” Lacson said.
“Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the 2 Files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345 billion or the bigger amount of P83.219 billion was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing… What is clear though is that there are still lump sums and vaguely described projects that are now part of the bicam report,” he added.
Lacson also said that Albay received the biggest amount of lump sum funds at P670 million, followed by Cavite with P580 million, Sorsogon with P570 million, Batangas with P502 million, Bulacan with P440 million, Pangasinan with P420 million and Cebu with P410 million.
Lacson said in a radio interview on Thursday that he, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara will list all the questionable insertions made by the House and forward it to the Office of the President.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, assured Lacson that President Rodrigo Duterte will carefully scrutinize the budget and will veto unconstitutional items.
“The provisions in the budget that run counter to the Constitution will be vetoed by the President. There is no change in that policy,” Panelo said in a statement on Thursday.
Lawmakers on Wednesday approved the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 to follow the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately ratify the bill for next year after this year’s budget was delayed to some issues./PN