‘House-approved budget pork-free’

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There is no “pork barrel” in the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 approved by lawmakers, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said on Wednesday.

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On September 26, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Act on third and final reading.

“Just like last year, this year and the next years, I reiterate my position that the national budget is and will be free of any pork barrel,” Nograles, who heads the House Committee on Appropriations, said in a statement.

The Supreme Court (SC) declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel fund as unconstitutional in November 2013.

Nograles said Congress is strictly complying with the SC ruling.

“[There is none of that (pork barrel) in the budget because all of the programs are itemized and specifically defined and described in the budget book]. The budget process and deliberations have been very transparent and the budget book is open to everyone’s scrutiny,” he added.

According to Nograles, lawmakers cannot participate in the budget’s implementation.

“Once the budget law is passed by Congress, then we turn it over to the executive to execute. Legislators cannot regulate the release of funds or influence how the executive department would utilize the budget. Nothing in the budget law allows Congress or any of its members to play any role in the execution or implementation of the budget,” he said.

REINA C. TOLENTINO

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