MANILA - The House Appropriations Committee, not Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is responsible for the P4.3 billion alleged "pork barrel" in the proposed 2019 national budget, a leader of the lower chamber said Thursday.
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday claimed that a male lawmaker from Camarines Sur and the second district of Pampanga represented by Arroyo cornered the bulk of congressional insertions under the General Appropriations bill for next year.
The Pampanga district is getting P2.4 billion worth of projects while the Camarines Sur lawmaker ended up with P1.9 billion worth of projects, he said.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, who represents the first district of Camarines Sur, said Arroyo earlier instructed the House Appropriations Committee to equally give P60 million to each congressman.
"Ang instruction was only pantay-pantay. Tanda ko pa nga iyung terminolohiya na ginamit, iyung 'bare minimum,'" he told radio DZMM.
(The instruction was to give equal funding. I remember that the terminology used was "bare minimum.")
He also denied that he asked additional funding for road projects in his district.
On the contrary, he said he urged the appropriations panel to refrain from making insertions in the budget without notifying the Senate.
The committee, however, did not heed his advice, claimed Andaya.
Instead, it may have displayed "misplaced generosity" when it granted the requests of public works regional directors for funding for flood control projects in Pampanga and road projects in Camarines Sur, he said.
"Mukhang naging, let's say, misplaced generosity. Ang napuruhan tuloy ay iyung taong nagpipigil pa," Andaya said.
(It seems that it became, let's say, a case of misplaced generosity so that those who tried to stop the insertions are now under fire.)
The House leadership, he said, will help the Senate analyze data on the 2019 budget.
House Appropriations Committee Senior Vice Chair Maria Carmen Zamora has disputed the figures released by Lacson to the media.
"Personally I do not know where the good senator got his figures because when I checked all our records I don't see any congressperson na may ganung kalaking increase when you compare the NEP (National Expenditure Program) to the 3rd reading version natin sa Congress," she said.
Zamora also denied that Arroyo’s district got a windfall because of the House. The area, she said, already had a big allocation in the National Expenditure Program, which is the original budget proposal of the President.