MANILA - Some members of the House of Representatives have demanded an apology from Sen. Panfilo Lacson after the latter claimed the 2020 national budget proposed by the chamber had insertions of discretionary funds or pork barrel.
Lacson earlier said House members would supposedly get P700 million in allocations under the proposed P4.1-trillion budget for next year.
Denying there was pork in the spending plan, Capiz Rep. Fred Castro called Lacson misguided and the latter’s accusations "reckless, irresponsible and imprudent."
“He should and must apologize to this institution and to all of you my dear colleagues (House members),” Castro said during a House plenary session Wednesday.
House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. added: "It would be appropriate to say that Sen. Lacson is a picture of immaturity and irresponsibility.”
Anak Kalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor also demanded an apology from the Senate for failing to "keep Lacson in check" and proposed that the budget for the senators’ initiatives in the budget be reallocated to districts of House members.
Lacson retorted at the House members, saying "their whining and howling" will not stop him from performing his mandate of scrutinizing the budget measure.
The senator has for long been watchful of insertions in the national budget akin to the invalidated pork barrel, which earlier drew controversy over alleged disbursement to fake NGOs in a multibillion-peso scheme that has triggered graft and plunder cases now on trial.
"As for those House members who abused the hard-earned money of taxpayers for the longest time that they availed of 'pork,' they are the ones who should apologize to the Filipino people," he said.
Last week, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said lawmakers are entitled to a P100-million allocation under the proposed budget. The allocation, according to Salceda, was proposed by lawmakers for inclusion in the spending plan.
Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate to reject the spending plan if he found it unconstitutional.
The Senate was allocated a total budget of P7.4 billion in the spending plan, while the House sought P14.02 billion. The total budget for Congress is P22.8 billion.
- RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News