After its hasty passage, Lacson and Drilon vow to dissect P4.1-T budget

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2019 03:48 PM

Senators Lacson (left) and Drilon called out the House’s plan to introduce individual amendments to the spending bill even though the lawmakers already approved it on third and final reading. George Calvelo and Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday slammed the “anomalous” budget process at the House of Representatives, as they vowed to scrutinize the P4.1 trillion spending bill 2020 that the lower chamber recently passed.

Lacson and Drilon called out the House’s plan to introduce individual amendments to the spending bill even though the lawmakers already approved it on third and final reading last Sept. 20.

“The next step should be BCC (bicameral conference committee) na maghaharap both houses para pagsamahin ang disagreeing provisions [sa budget],” Lacson told reporters.

(The next step should be at the BCC where both houses will face each other and consolidate the disagreeing provisions in the budget bill.)

“So I cannot see any logic in reports na sila mismo nagsabi saka sila magpapasok ng mga individual amendments.”

(So I cannot see any logic in reports that they will introduce individual amendments.)

Drilon, for his part, said the House’s proposed procedure is improper and “anomalous.”

“I do not think that is the procedure. Just so to set the record straight, it is the printed copy that is voted on third reading and there is supposed to be no more amendments,” Drilon said.

WAR OF WORDS

Lacson and several House leaders have been trading barbs after the senator, known for his crusade against the discretionary pork barrel in the budget, 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.

He said the plan was aborted, but he stood by the information given to him by an unnamed source.

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro denied Lacson’s claim, and said in a privilege speech on Wednesday that the senator should apologize for his “reckless” claim.

Lacson’s claim also prompted Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor to propose that the Senate budget be slashed.

“I don’t care kung tawagin nilang word war or pagpuna ng isang senador kasi sabi ko nga, hindi lang itong taon ko lang ginagawa. Taon-taon na ito. Maski sinong presidente, ’yan din naman ginagawa ko,” Lacson told reporters.

(I don’t care if they would call this a word war because as I said, I do this every year. No matter who the president is, I do it.)

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez have agreed to a ceasefire between the two chambers’ members over the budget.

This year's budget was delayed for a quarter due to the bickering between the two chambers. The Senate accused the House of making illegal budget insertions.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate to reject the spending plan if he found it unconstitutional.