MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday there were "insertions" made by some congressmen in the 2021 budget proposal submitted by the executive branch.
He said P1 million was "uniformly appropriated" to around 42 congressional districts in the country in the National Expenditure Program.
"Ibig sabihin ito 'yung insertions na nga but inserted already not anymore under the General Appropriations Bill in Congress but dun sa NEP as submitted very, very late ng DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways)," he told ANC's Headstart.
(This means these are insertions but were inserted not under the General Appropriations Bill in Congress but in the NEP as submitted very, very late by the DPWH.)
Lacson earlier flagged P396 billion lump sum appropriations under the proposed 2021 budget of the DPWH. Its breakdown was submitted 12 days later than the required 30-day period.
He said per his information, the DPWH was not able to submit on time because "there was a lot of haggling that went on between DPWH and some congressmen."
"Coming from that premise or assumption na may haggling, galing na nga sa mga congressman 'yung breakdown na sinubmit ng DPWH na nag-increase nga 'yung mga local project," he said in the interview. The budget for multipurpose buildings was around P67 billion, he said.
(Coming from that premise or assumption that there was haggling, it means the breakdown submitted by DPWH, where local projects increased, was from congressmen.)
He said this is a violation of the budget process, as the NEP must solely be the job of the executive. Apart from this, there were also many different issues involving the budget, such as removal of infrastructure support for the Department of Tourism, which oversees a sector that was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
"Maraming issues involved in the DPWH budget kasi nga they disfigured or mutilated the DPWH budget. Why? And assumption nga based on the information supplied to us by some congressmen ay pinakialaman ng ilang congressmen ang budget ng DPWH to be converted into their local constituencies’ projects," he said.
(There are a lot of issues involved in the DPWH budget because it was disfigured or mutilated. Why? The assumption, based on information supplied to us by some congressmen, is that some congressmen tinkered with the DPWH budget to convert it into their local constituencies' projects.)
Lacson refused to say if he believes this is connected to the 2022 elections, saying he would rather "stick to the facts na merong (that there was) constitutional infirmity tapos (and) the budget process is not followed."
He said the Senate would look into these issues and amend as necessary. The two houses of Congress would later meet in a bicameral conference to consolidate the spending bill that will be submitted for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.