Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon vowed Thursday to scrutinize the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget amidst reports that the spending outlay contains at least P35 billion in "pork" barrel".
"Whether it is pork or beef, we will find out when the budget is submitted to us. We will question it and exert every effort to weed out pork from the national budget," Drilon said.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is expected to submit the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress next week.
"The minority is prepared to scrutinize the budget to make sure that every item in the budget is in accordance with the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling on the PDAF, and is for the best interest of the public, not the lawmakers," he stressed.
The pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.
Drilon said that how to get rid of pork barrel is a challenge to the new leadership of the Senate, particularly the Senate Committee on Finance headed by Sen. Sonny Angara.
"It's a challenge to all of us in the Senate, particularly the committee that hears the budget each year. We are confident that Senator Angara will see to it that the budget is 'pork-free,'" Drilon said.
The insertions of pork barrel by some lawmakers caused a three-month delay in the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.
"Let us chop off pork in the budget. Anything that smells and looks like pork and bears resemblance to the PDAF system must be taken out immediately," he added.
During his time as Senate President in 16thCongress, it was Drilon who led the upper chamber in abolishing the PDAF system.
Drilon also urged the public to examine the budget to make sure pork barrel fund will not be included in the 2020 national budget.
Source: Senate of the Philippines