Funds for congressmen will depend on district’s needs: Palace

MANILA Amid concerns over pork insertions in the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, MalacaAang said Tuesday allocations for each member of the House of Representatives should depend on the needs of a particular district.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Senator Panfilo Ping Lacson expressed disapproval over the PHP100 million allocated for each congressman in the national budget.

I think whether the budget is reasonable or not will depend on the needs of a particular district, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

It could be the priorities require that kind of amount in a particular district. Even if it's an urban place, kung mayroong kailangan sa isang aspect ng siyudad na 'yun na kailangan and kailangan nila that kind of amount, ibibigay pa rin 'yun (if there is a need in that particular district and they need that kind of amount, they will give that), he added.

The Palace official, however, said whether or not the allocation for congressmen may be considered pork would depend on the evaluation of President Rodrigo Duterte consistent with what the Constitution dictates and what the Supreme Court has decided on the matter.

He reassured that the President, who is also a lawyer, would scrutinize the proposed 2020 budget and veto it if found unconstitutional.

Ultimately it will be, one, the President first; and then if somebody questions it, it's the Supreme Court, Panelo said.

On September 18, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda bared that each congressman will be receiving PHP100 million under the proposed national budget for 2020.

Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, bared that of the amount, PHP70 million will be allocated for hard projects, such as infrastructure, while PHP30 million will be used for soft projects, such as medical assistance.

Benefit of the doubt

Meanwhile, Panelo said it would give House Speaker Alan Cayetano the benefit of the doubt when it came to defending another lawmaker's call to increase the House of Representatives' proposed PHP14 billion budget for 2020 by PHP1.6 billion.

On Friday, Cavite 8th District Rep. Abraham Tolentino pushed for the additional PHP1.6 billion fund for the House.

Cayetano rejected a blogger's claim that the amount would be used for the House's additional eight deputy speakers.

The former senator explained that it would actually be used to improve the House's research capabilities and facilities; fund additional committees; and meet the requirement for the new Salary Standardization Law, among others.

Panelo said the Palace would accept Cayetano's explanation unless there is evidence to prove the contrary.

Well, kung iyan ang paliwanag ni (if that is the explanation of) Speaker Alan, then we'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt, he said.

There is such constitutional concept as in law jurisprudence that every official act is regular unless proof to the contrary is supplied, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency