Velasco allays concerns over possible pork insertions in 2021 national budget

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2020 04:48 AM

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco during a special meeting with allied lawmakers at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on Monday. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco allayed concerns over possible pork insertions in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

The House of Representatives allowed its members to submit individual amendments to the General Appropriations Bill until October 19th, even after passing it on third and final reading Friday.

“We made sure it is a constitutional budget based on the decision of the Supreme Court,” Velasco told reporters Friday.

“We are making sure there is no pork in the said budget,” he added.

Velsco said they are studying how to address the “inequitable” infrastructure budget allocations for districts.

“Kung hindi namin magawa ‘yan ngayon, meron pa naman next year. Pero as much as possible, we will do everything we can so that we can equitably, fairly distribute,” he said.

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Some lawmakers complained of supposedly higher infra funds in districts of congressmen who were known allies of former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. 

Cayetano has denied this.

Will the proposed 2021 infra allocation for Cayetano’s district in Taguig and his close ally Rep. LRay Villafuerte’s district in Camarines Sur be affected? 

“I'm still looking at it,” Velasco said.

He denied Villafuerte’s claim that former Rep. Rolando Andaya had a hand in the proposed 2021 national budget. 

“I haven’t seen congressman Andaya actively participating behind the scenes,” Velasco said.

“I can’t still understand why he (Villafuerte) doesn’t want to stop. Ever since nung umpisa pa lang ng laban e talak na nang talak, hanggang ngayon eh talak pa rin nang talak. I just don’t try to listen to that anymore,” he added.

The third reading approval came minutes after the House passed the national budget on the second reading, marking the second consecutive year that the budget bill breezed through its second and third readings on the same day.

The agencies which received the biggest allocations were: Department of Education, P754.4 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways, P667.3 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government, P246.1 billion; Department of National Defense, P209.1 billion; Department of Health (DOH), P203.1 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P171.2 billion; Department of Transportation, P143.6 billion; Department of Agriculture, P66.4 billion; the Judiciary, P43.5 billion; and Department of Labor and Employment, P27.5 billion.

The DOH budget includes an initial P2.5 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines next year.