MANILA—House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro on Saturday sought an explanation from Sen. Panfilo Lacson regarding lump sum allocations inserted into the proposed 2019 budget.
In a statement, Castro said Lacson has yet to specify for which purpose P50 billion worth of the senator's insertions would be used, adding that Lacson "refused to call it pork barrel or insertion, but institutional amendments."
"Nadiskubre po ng mga kasapi ng Mababang Kapulungan sa Bicameral Conference Committee na ito pong ating kaibigan na si Sen. Lacson ay may ipinasok na halagang P50 billion para po sa kanyang pangangailangan na halaga na ayon sa kaniya ay hindi pork barrel," he said.
Castro added that the Senate has no itemized allocation for its P190-billion amendments to the 2019 budget.
"Hindi natin binibigyan ng kulay ang layunin kung bakit itong P190 billion ay ipinasok ng ating mga kaibigan sa Senado. Subalit itong P190 billion hanggang ngayon ay hindi naipapaliwanag ng Senators kung saan gagamitin ito," he said.
Lacson said the amendments, made public this week, aim to benefit the education, environment, and national security sectors.
"Ever since, I submit to the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance in official written form all my amendments to the annual budget bill for one very simple reason: I have nothing to hide since they are all institutional," Lacson said. "In fact, I take pride that my amendments benefit no one else but the agencies concerned."
Sen. Ralph Recto, meanwhile, acknowledged that the Senate inserted institutional and individual amendments to the proposed budget.
"Tatawagin na natin kahit ano'ng gusto, pero ang aking pagkakaunawa d'yan syempre mga senator, may mga hometown, home provinces 'yan, maraming lumalapit sa senador katulad ng mga congressman na nagfa-follow up ng community projects," Recto told radio DWIZ.
"Basta para sakin line item 'yung budget, lahat nakasulat d'yan, walang problema 'yun, kita ng lahat. Transparent 'yun pagka line item."
Castro assured that House members would attend should a special session be held for the 2019 budget.
"They will have to come. Kung hindi sila dadating, walang proyekto ang kanilang distrito," he said.
Lacson also said senators will agree to hold a special session if necessary.
"Payag naman kami du'n basta maaprubahan lang at di ma-reenact 'yung budget at 'wag nang umabot ng bago mag-eleksyon," he told radio DWIZ.