MANILA -- Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado on Thursday defended the proposed 2020 national budget from left-wing lawmakers' allegations that it contained "pork barrel."
The Department of Budget and Management is deferring to Congress on the P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2020, adding: "Walang matatago (We can't hide anything)."
Lef-wing party-list group Bayan Muna had said that next year's budget proposal contained up to P1.7 trillion in funds that are not itemized.
Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said special purpose funds "can be classified as a humongous lump sum, and therefore pork barrel" because the items on which they will be spent had not been identified.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate also said that unless itemized, these funds could be considered pork barrel.
Among special purpose funds in the 2020 Budget bill are: the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, the Contingent Fund, the Pension and Gratuity Fund and the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund.
Also counted under special purpose funds are the unprogrammed funds which are provided to cover deficiencies, requirements that cannot be fully accommodated vis-a-vis provisions in the agency-specific budgets. These are subject to the availability of revenue or funding.
Most of these funds may be accessed subject to the authority of the President or his alter egos.