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Pork in House, Senate hit

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CLARK FREEPORT – The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) condemned yesterday the “shameless admission of congressional pork” worth P80 million for members of the Lower House and P200 million for each member of the Senate.

BMP chair Leody de Guzman said this admission by Deputy Speaker Rolando Abaya clearly violated the unanimous 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of congressional pork following controversies involving Janet Lim Napoles.

He noted that the new pork barrel was virtually admitted by Abaya despite his insistence that the allocations could not be classified as pork barrel. Andaya had insisted that the allotments were in line with line item budgeting of the budget department and was authorized by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“These legislators are making a fool out of the tax-burdened public. We know all too well that legislators intervene in the budgetary processes to finance their pet projects, which allegedly cater to the needs of their constituents but also, as is obvious, to consolidate their control over political power via patronage politics. They help each other out in maintaining their anomalous habit like an inner circle of crazed drug addicts,” said De Guzman, also a senatorial aspirant under Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM).

De Guzman said “the sight of lawmakers brazenly defying a lawful order by the Supreme Court and openly defending their illegal acts is sickening, if not troubling. By remaining in power through the trickle down of pork to their constituents, they are not doing their job as legislators that enact laws for the welfare of the people.”

He also lamented the “deafening silence of the 292-member Lower House on the issue of congressional pork, especially the minority bloc,” even as he pointed out that “only Sen. Ping Lacson spoke publicly against the discretionary funds of the members of the Senate.”

“The silence is deafening. Nary a peep was heard from the Minority. Everybody is in cahoots as congressmen and senators are all perpetrators and accomplices to perpetuating the outlawed pork barrel system,” he added.

De Guzman pointed out that “the High Court, in its landmark decision, broadly defined as illegal all congressional insertions which confer or conferred personal, lump sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determined”.

He noted “that the budgetary insertions made by the legislative branch, and shameless and shamefully defended by Rep. Andaya would fall under the definition of ‘pork barrel’ by the high court.”

“This callous disregard to the SC decision bolsters the public perception that Batasan is a house of representa-thieves. They do not care if the taxpayers are seething in anger against the pork barrel. All they care about is how to advance their interests, even if they have to bend and break the spirit and the letters of the law. For this, they may already be liable of grave abuse of discretion,” De Guzman said.

Meanwhile, Benjo Basas, first nominee of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) partylist and a public school teacher stressed that “the budget should have no room for discretionary funds by lawmakers and must be aligned with the needs and priorities of departments and agencies, particularly those that badly requires modernization and salary upgrading.”

The BMP and PLM vowed to campaign against candidates who are involved or are in favor of congressional pork in next year’s midterm elections.

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