MANILA - House leaders are up in arms over Senator Panfilo Lacson's allegation that as much as P54 billion in pork barrel was inserted in the proposed national budget for next year.
Lacson had alleged that congressmen would supposedly get P700 million each while P1.5 billion would be allotted to each of the 22 deputy speakers under the proposed spending plan.
"There is none. If you will go over General Appropriations bill that was approved by House of Representatives you will find it is a replica of the amount requested by the President as included in the national expenditure program," Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro told ANC's Early Edition.
"That is a downright disinformation. No truth to that and we are sad that this thing happened. A statement like this, irresponsible, and reckless will definitely erode the reputation of the House of Representatives as an institution."
Castro said he and House Minority Leader Martin Romualdez have "challenged" Lacson to present the lawmakers who "spread these lies and disinformation dahil ito ay pawang walang katotohanan."
"Let me clarify that this is disinformation and not a lie because Sen. Lacson himself did not verify the veracity of his information. Siya mismo nagsabi na ito’y report lamang ng ilang kasapi ng mababang kapulungan," he said.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who heads the House Committee on Ways and Means, earlier said lawmakers would get P100 million each as "allocations for constituents."
Castro denied this was pork barrel because it "does not involve discretion."
"It can only involve choice among congressmen in accordance with the request of their constituents. It cannot go beyond what is, beyond mandate of any government agency," he said.
He, however, said amendments would still be made to the approved budget.
"It was approved in plenary that amendments committee and individual amendments will have to be submitted to a small committee to be created after the approval of the appropriation bill," Castro said.
"However, it is premature for me to be talking about that P100 million over which members of the House may be given access to. We do not know yet the amendments. We are not aware and we are not advised about this P100 million advised by Cong. Salceda."
Castro said there was a "one-shot" P1.5 billion fund allotted for the House to "augment the funds" provided for the additional deputy speakers.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said the P1.6 billion increase in proposed budget of the chamber would be allotted for new committees and improvement of some facilities.