MANILA House of Representatives Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Wednesday clarified that what are "erroneously" being referred to as pork barrel in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) are funds initially allotted for all congressional districts in the country.
Andaya made the statement in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson's claim that congressmen would receive PHP60 million each in pork barrel funds from the PHP3.757-trillion national budget for next year.
"The underlying principle here: no district will be left behind. All will get a share, a piece of the pie, for the benefit of their constituents. These are not pork barrel funds declared illegal by the Supreme Court," Andaya said.
"Lahat po ng ordinaryong mamamayan sa mga distrito ay may karapatang magtamasa ng benepisyo ng proyektong pinondohan ng kanilang buwis (Ordinary citizens from all districts have the right to enjoy the benefits of projects that were funded by their taxes). They have the right to enjoy the fruits of their taxes, regardless of their political affiliation. Hindi issue kung supporter sila ng administration o opposition (Whether they support the administration or the opposition is not an issue)," he added.
Andaya said that so long as the fund is dedicated to a specific purpose, does not require post enactment measures, and is participated in by the Congress as a legislative body, and not by individual members, then it can be allowed.
"What the SC prohibits is encroachment of Executive Power (as post enactment measures are part of executive functions) and non-delegability of legislative powers since the determination of purpose by the individual members can be considered as a delegation of rule-making powers," he said.
Andaya noted that the House Speaker has no power to distribute projects, and no member of Congress can "arbitrarily" order any amount to be released for these projects.
"Fund releases are guided by the one official bible in spending, and that is the national budget. And the one who approves releases authorized in the national budget is the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) Secretary. It is a power that resides exclusively in the executive," he said.
"In our system of government, no member of the legislative branch can order the downloading of funds from the treasury," he added.
The House approved the 2019 GAB on final reading last week. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency