- in Philippines, Politics
Senator Panfilo Lacson congratulated the House of Representatives for their pork free proposed 2020 National Budget.Photo from PhilStar

Just a day before the resumption of the 18th Congress, Senator Panfilo Lacson took to the radio to broadcast his admiration of the House for a truly pork-free budget. The praise comes after Senator Lacson studied the version, which was transmitted to the Senate early last month.

“In fairness dito sa present House of Representatives, ito yata ang sasabihin kong most behaved na counterparts namin sa panahong ito,” Senator Lacson said.

“Pero as far as ang na-transmit sa Senado, talagang P9.5B lang at puro institutional amendments,” said Senator Lacson. “Pero ngayon talagang ang sinabi nila na nilagyan nila ng pondo ang NFA para sa palay; ang DOH para pag-augment sa Universal Health Care, talagang ‘yun lang.”

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez earlier said that the House’s fund realignments were only to strengthen critical social and developmental programs, like the Philippine General Hospital’s operational budget and allocated funds for palay purchasing. In his response to criticism of the budget, the House Leader asked how palay could become pork.

Senator Lacson also commended Speaker Cayetano for the House’s budget.

“In fairness to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, talagang pinangatawanan nila na ang P9.5B kasi binusisi talaga namin sa opisina talagang P9.5B ang ginalaw,” the Senator continued. House members cited the leadership of Speaker Cayetano as an instrumental capacity builder for the House. Among the institutional changes he made include revising the house of the plenary to maximize each day and providing a floor for every Representative to air their parochial concerns outside of the session debate. This proved to create an efficient system that passed the budget in record time.

Rumors of alleged corruption which hounded the House’s version of the budget, without citing any tangible basis or proof. Undeterred, House Leaders and Members continued to pass priority measures of the Duterte administration, achieving high marks for trust and approval by the session’s break.

President Duterte certified the passing of the 2020 National Budget as urgent just a day before the House passed their version on third reading. The economic delays experienced in 2019 have been credited to the slow and inefficient passing of the current year’s budget. For the first part of the fiscal year, the country operated on a reenacted 2018 budget. Unfortunately, this budget was not suitable to the unique needs of the country by 2019, especially for the flagship Build, Build, Build program. To avoid these negative effects, the President has appealed to members of Congress to prioritize the passing of the budget.

Congress, as Partners for Change, responded by passing a budget that was free from pork, parked funds, and delays. Both the Senate and the House will meet in a bicameral conference during the resumption of the session to discuss the budget, hopefully passing it before the year’s end.

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