Lawmaker flags P149 billion 'pork funds' in 2023 budget

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2022 12:02 PM

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MANILA — A lawmaker on Friday sounded the alarm on some P100 billion in alleged “pork barrel” funds in the 2023 national budget approved by the House of Representatives.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel flagged the P149 billion lump sum allocation tagged as “Support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs (SIPSP).”

“Kapag dumating na yung fund sources para doon sa P149 billion, it would be Malacañang and not Congress [that] would decide kung saan mapunpunta yung pera na ‘yon,” Manuel told ANC.

“Yung discretionary funds, it can be a very dangerous allocation, lalo na’t naba-bypass yung power ng Congress, supposedly it has the power of the purse… and we must not delegate that power to the executive branch, to the president or the Cabinet,” he added.
 
(Once the fund sources for the P149 billion are here, Malacañang, not Congress, will decide where it would go. Discretionary funds can be a very dangerous allocation, especially since it bypasses the power of Congress.)

His fellow Makabayan bloc lawmaker, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, earlier argued the SIPSP funds should have been itemized in specific agencies. 

"Dahil walang detalye, on the discretion of the Office of the President, pinapalagay namin dahil discretion yan, that is pork... Di ba pinagbabawal yung discretion?"

(Due to the lack of details which leave it up to the discretion of the Office of the President, we assume that is pork. Isn't that prohibited?)
 
But Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo explained the President would only give a directive on the use of the SIPSP fund.

"Ang sabi po natin, ito based on a policy direction, hindi po discretion... Magbabalangkas po ang ating pangulo ng isang polisiyang siyang aakysunan ng ahensiya," Quimbo said.

(This is based on a policy direction, not discretion. Our President will draft a policy on which the agency would take action.)

Quimbo said the SIPSP has details compliant with the Supreme Court Ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program. She added that unprogrammed funds provide standby authority since there is still no funding source yet. 

She also explained that the SIPSP cannot be put in the calamity fund and contingent funds because these impose certain conditions that the SIPSP cannot meet. 

Three lawmakers had opposed the supposedly rushed passage of the 2023 budget at House of Representatives. 

— With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News