MALACAÑANG has denied Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s claim that as much as P8.5 billion in pork barrel funds was allocated to some lawmakers in the 2017 national budget.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace understood Lacson’s concerns regarding the 2017 budget, but insisted it had been compliant with the Supreme Court rulings that shot down discretionary and lump-sum funds, such as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“We understand the concern of Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, on the slashing of the Calamity Fund. However, the 2017 budget is compliant with the Supreme Court decisions on PDAF and DAP,” Abella said.
Abella issued the statement following Lacson’s claim Wednesday that the P8.5-billion fund that he had wanted removed from the budget Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was restored, when data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that the same amount was taken from calamity funds and moved to the DPWH. Also, P500 million more was given to the DPWH.
Lacson said the transfer was not allowed under Republic Act 6734 or the organic act for the ARMM.
“If you add the P8.3 billion and the P3.6 billion the House of Representatives allotted to ARMM and divided it for the eight legislative districts in the region, it would mean that each ARMM congressman will get P1.5 billion worth of projects in 2017,” Lacson said earlier.
But Abella said the DPWH will be in charge of projects addressing the effects of calamities.
“The Department of Public Works and Highways is solely responsible for identified projects—from repair and reconstruction of permanent structures to communities or areas affected by man-made and natural calamities,” he said.
Abella also said President Rodrigo Duterte will not condone individuals getting special favors.
“The President is particularly abhorrent to giving favors to particular individuals, not even its allies, in line with his inaugural vow to serve every one and not only one,” he said.