MANILA - House Speaker Sonny Belmonte repeated his previous defense of the 2015 budget when it was approved at the Lower House amid criticism that it had hidden pork barrel funds.
Belmonte maintained that the bill approved by the House adhered to the Supreme Court ruling against the priority development assistance funds system, which barred lawmakers from exercising discretion over lump sums after it has been enacted by Congress through the budget law.
The Speaker said lawmakers itemized the projects in the budget.
"A lot of projects of congressmen that are there but they are listed. Ang sinabi ng Supreme Court in their decision against PDAF ay lump sum without any indication what they are going to be used for. The Supreme Court said there is nothing absolutely wrong, it is the function of Congress to itemize projects. As you can see from former 2-volume budget, we have a 6-volume budget. Sana naman basahin niyo ano yung mga projects na yun," he said.
The senate is expected to approve its version of the 2015 budget bill. A bicameral conference committee is expected to be called to reconcile their clashing provisions.
Congress hopes to enact the budget into law by the new year.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad earlier insisted there are no more pork barrel lump sums in the 2015 budget. This is after Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago questioned P37 billion in alleged lump sums in the proposed budget.
"This is the most detailed budget ever submitted to Congress," Abad said.