The budget “war” between the House of Representatives and the Senate is far from over.
Some deputy speakers on Sunday called out Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon for being “obstructionists” and causing the delay of President Rodrigo Duterte’s reform programs after the two branded the House-approved General Appropriations Bill “anomalous.”
The House had formed a small committee to make amendments to House Bill 4228 after approving the budget on second and third reading on September 20.
Days before the House transmits the budget bill to the Senate, Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal called on Lacson and Drilon to refrain from making “premature statements” that will put the congressmen “in a bad light.”
“How can they conclude that the budget bill contains questionable provisions when they haven’t even seen a copy of the document?” Oaminal said, reiterating that the approved budget was free from any “pork insertions” and “parking” of funds.
Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia said the creation of the small committee was nothing new, as this has been the usual practice since the 8th Congress.
“We call on our fellow lawmakers to observe interparliamentary courtesy and refrain from coming out with premature, baseless allegations. We appeal to them to wait for us to do our jobs first,” Garcia said.
Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano noted that Drilon, himself, had faced a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center, which was partly funded by the senator’s P200-million Priority Development Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” in 2013.
“That was the time when pork was called the Priority Development Assistance Fund, which the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional,” he said.
“Senator Drilon, let’s respect one another. Please refrain from prejudging and criticizing us without basis because your statements might boomerang on you,” he added.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, on the other hand, said House members would join Lacson in his fight against pork barrel.
Last week, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and Lacson had a heated exchange over alleged pork barrel, which the former House leadership had supposedly been pushing in the 17th Congress.