MANILA - Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday challenged those claiming there is pork barrel in the 2017 budget to come out and prove their allegations.
"Saan ba galing yang pork, pork na yan?" Alvarez said in a media interview.
"Kung sino man nagpasimuno niyan, lumabas siya, ituro saan ang pork. Pwede natin litsunin yan para pwede natin makain," he added in jest.
Alvarez maintained that the House of Representatives under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will obey the Supreme Court (SC) ruling outlawing the pork barrel system.
"We are not inclined to violate what is illegal. Kung sinabi ng SC na illegal yan, illegal yan. You know, pagka halimbawa viniolate namin yun, merong pork barrel, magkaka-disallowance from COA (Commission on Audit). Malaking problema yun. We will be criminally liable. Definitely, wala nang pork," he said.
READ: 'Guni-guni': Alvarez denies pork barrel is back
The high court had disallowed the intervention of lawmakers in the implementation of the projects they proposed for their constituents after they pass the national budget.
Alvarez, however, explained it is legal for congressmen to work with Cabinet agencies to facilitate the implementation of projects itemized in the national budget.
"All congressmen, since they are the representatives of their constituents, may mga problema yan na galing sa tao. Let's say walang school buildings, walang drainage, maraming kailangan pag-aralin na mahihirap, maraming walang pambiling medisina.
"Since enacting the budget is legislation by itself, dapat mga congressman, they should see to it yung concerns ng districts ma-address by participating in deliberations."
For Alvarez, that cannot be considered pork barrel since the projects are itemized in the budget before it is approved. Pork barrel is a lump sum at the discretion of just one official.
"Ibahin natin ngayon. Kasi naging notorious picture ng Congress in the past administration dahil sa issue ng pork dahil sa issue ni (Janet Lim) Napoles in line budgeting. Wala na si napoles. Yan di papayagan ng ating Presidente yung ganung klaseng corruption," he said.
There were reports that neophyte lawmakers were asked to submit a proposed list of projects worth P80 million for each lawmaker supposedly as a new form of pork barrel.