Senator Panfilo Lacson has vowed to oversee the implementation of various infrastructure projects in the country as part of the budget oversight process.
In a statement on Monday, Lacson said he will fly drones in several parts of the country, similar to what he did last year, to oversee how projects are implemented in the 2019 budget to combat the pork barrel system.
“I guess our drone will again be very busy flying later this year to oversee how those ‘projects’ are implemented, if at all,” he said.
Lacson also urged district representatives in the House of Representatives to participate in the formulation of local development plans to avoid making “insertions” after the National Expenditure Program (NEP) has been submitted to Congress.
“It is high time we eliminate the obvious disconnect between the needs and priorities of the countryside local government units and the expenditure program at the national level, due to the absence of consultations,” Lacson said.
The Senate on Friday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed PHP3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.
Lacson, in his privilege speech, described the 2019 budget as “pork-ridden” and “cholesterol-rich”, particularly those lodged in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He claimed each congressman would receive PHP60 million from the PHP51.792 billion, which was allegedly a big chunk of the PHP75-billion insertion in the DPWH budget. Each congressman already has a minimum allocation of PHP100 million under the NEP.
Lacson also said some PHP23.286 billion worth of new projects were introduced in the DPWH budget by some senators.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, assured that each and every amendment is accompanied by agency requests.
“In so far as the Senate is concerned, there are no imagined projects. All are agency requests,” she said.
Legarda further noted that all Senate amendments are “institutional in nature”, describing the 2019 national budget as “inclusive, pro-poor, and pro-people”, and is a “product of hard work and discernment.”
The passage of the 2019 budget was delayed when the Senate failed to approve the NEP before 2018 ended, leading to the automatic reenactment of the 2018 budget. (PNA)