Drilon urges public to be vigilant on 2019 national budget

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2019 11:55 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2019 03:41 AM

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MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the public should be vigilant in the execution of the 2019 budget as it contains pork barrel.

"Ang importante dito siguro eh bantayan ang execution dahil per se, lahat naman sa buong mundo may pork barrel, ngunit ang pagkaiba siguro natin yung sinasabing katiwalian sa pag-execute ng mga proyekto," he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson has said some P160 million in allocations per congressman were retained during a "small group" bicameral conference committee meeting late Wednesday.

When asked if he considers the P160 million allocation as pork barrel, Drilon answered "yes."

"Yes, itinuturing nating pork ngunit ang pinagkaiba nito is naka-line item. Yung pork kasing naintindihan natin noon may isang buong tab ng PDAF kung ilang billion, naka-lump sum, yung mga kongresista at mga senador magssubmit ng kanilang proyekto," he said.

"Ngayon hindi ganun ang patakaran, ngayon pa lang magsa-submit na ng proyekto ang kongresista at senador at dun susuriin ng chairman ng mga committees kung tama ba yan."

Drilon, meanwhile, said President Rodrigo Duterte may not use his line-item veto power to remove budget insertions by lawmakers after Lacson urged him to do so.

"Palagay ko hindi matatanggal sa budget na ipapasa ng Kongreso bukas. Nanawagan si Sen. Lacson kay Pangulong Duterte na i-veto. Sa palagay ko hindi mavi-veto," he said.

Drilon said the 2019 budget will be passed Friday.

"Sa tingin ko makakapasa. Bukas ng alas-2 [ng hapon] magkakaroon ng bicameral conference committee meeting, pagkatapos nun, alas-4 meron kaming session sa Senado para i-ratify yung bicam conference committee report. At sa aking tingin ito ay maaprubahan," he said.

The government has been running on a reenacted 2018 budget since the start of the year after lawmakers failed to pass the spending law before the December 31, 2018 deadline.