MANILA - President Duterte wants House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to explain the billions of pesos of alleged pork barrel insertions in the proposed 2019 budget, the Palace said Monday.
“He (Duterte) said that there must be some explanation on the part of Speaker Arroyo and the others, let’s hear them,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacanang.
Panelo said Mrs. Arroyo has reached out to him via text message to explain the controversial insertions. “Their explanation is that contrary to the allegation of pork barrel, they said that this time there were items and these items were given by different agencies and it was prior to the approval, they’ve been there. Unlike the pork barrel lump sum where there is no specific item where it will go,” the spokesman explained.
Malacanang meanwhile is deferring to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to respond to claims that the insertions actually came from the Executive Department. Diokno is set to appear at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“Budget Secretary Diokno has been invited to explain. So we leave it at that. We’ll see,” Panelo said.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. has admitted Arroyo promised a P60 million allotment for each lawmaker, but insisted that these were not pork, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling in 2013.
He told radio DZMM that it was the House Appropriations Committee, not Speaker Arroyo, who is responsible for the P4.3 billion alleged "pork barrel" in the proposed 2019 national budget.
He said the committee 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.