MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday rejected a suggestion that Congress should shave the 2021 budget for agencies that are set to be investigated over allegations of corruption, saying even a "reduced budget can still be plundered."
ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap earlier said that lawmakers may move to "reduce or remove the budget" of an agency tagged in corruption schemes.
"Good media copy. But not the appropriate remedy," Drilon said in a text message to reporters.
"Even a reduced budget can still be plundered if handled by the same corrupt officials," he said.
Drilon underscored that beneficiaries - not corrupt government officials - would suffer if Yap's budget cut threat materializes.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) - two agencies that provide financial assistance to the public - are among the agencies that may be hit with Yap's proposed budget cuts, Drilon said.
"Why will you punish PhilHealth, or SAP (Social Amelioration Program) beneficiaries, especially during this pandemic, for the acts of its officials?" the senator said.
"Effective prosecution of corrupt officials, and strengthening the anti-graft laws, and not the reduction of the budget, are the proper and more effective remedy," he said.
Yap's comments came days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that a "mega" task force would look into corruption allegations hounding several government agencies.
The Department of Justice earlier said it would prioritize 5 agencies in the series of corruption investigations.