MANILA - The House of Representatives rebutted claims by Senator Panfilo Lacson that pork barrel remains in the proposed 2017 budget approved by the Lower House.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Karlo Nograles told ABS-CBN News that there is no pork barrel in the proposed budget and there will be no post-enactment intervention, an act declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The 2017 national budget hit a deadlock after Lacson returned P8.3 billion to the budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
ARMM congressmen earlier took P8.3 billion from the P40.6 billion budget of the autonomous region and placed it in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Lacson claimed ARMM lawmakers were allowed to insert projects for their districts in the budget of the DPWH before the budget bill became law. He stressed that allocating the budget for ARMM infrastructure to the DPWH budget violates the autonomous region’s Organic Act.
He insisted that the P8.3 billion be returned to the ARMM and be given to state colleges and universities.
Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar said efforts are now being made to break the impasses, as the two chambers are set to go on Christmas break this Thursday.
The 2017 budget has to be approved by Wednesday for it to be effective by January 1, 2017.
Sambar still maintained there is no pork in the budget, the first under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Our House contingent is working hard to find ways kung ano ba pwede gawin in regards sa impasse na ito. The Committee on Appropriations is looking at all options…to appease everybody especially iyung counterparts sa Senate to see na walang tinatago sa House,” Sambar said.
The bicameral conference committee on the budget resumes its sessions tomorrow. It has to approve a committee report which will then be subjected to ratification by the two chambers of Congress.