Arroyo allies vow pork barrel won't return in 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers allied with Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave an assurance that unconstitutional pork barrel would not end up in the 2019 budget.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya and Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro both said on Wednesday, August 8, that the lower chamber would comply with the Supreme Court ruling that deemed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional in 2013.
"Well, anything that Congress or the House has done with the budget has been in concurrence with the Senate. But we welcome [the criticism]. Magtrabaho kami (We'll work on it). We'll make sure everything complies with the Supreme Court decision," said Andaya in a chance interview with reporters.
The Camarines Sur 1st District representative was asked to respond to Senator Panfilo Lacson's warning that PDAF misuse would return now that Arroyo is speaker. The PDAF was still being implemented during her term as president from 2001 to 2010.
"With the policy statement issued by Speaker GMA concerning all the congressmen's earmarks for their respective districts, expect a massive mangling of the NEP (National Expenditure Program)," Lacson said in a statement.
Arroyo already promised not to give zero budget to opposition lawmakers in 2019.
For Castro, Lacson's warning is "speculative and a convenient guesswork, bereft of any legal and factual bases."
"The good senator himself said that there is a Supreme Court decision on the matter henceforth, regardless of who is the speaker of the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court decision will always be observed," said Castro, Capiz 2nd District representative.
In 2013, principal whistleblower Benhur Luy revealed that fake non-governmental organizations were being used to divert pork barrel into the personal pockets of legislators and their co-conspirators. (READ: Pork tales: A story of corruption)
The alleged queen of the pork barrel scam is Janet Lim Napoles. She and members of her family were recently indicted by a United States federal grand jury for domestic and international money laundering and conspiracy. They allegedly transferred $20 million of alleged earnings from the scam to the US. – Rappler.com