By Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
November 30, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Veteran labor leader Ka Leody De Guzman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) in a statement condemned what he called a “shameless admission of congressional pork” by Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya, who disclosed that each member of the House of Representatives and Senate received budgetary allocations of P80 million and P200 million respectively.
The representative from the first district of Camarines Sur however denied that the said funds could be deemed as “pork barrel”.
Ka Leody asserted that the legislators were skirting from the unanimous 2013 Supreme Court ruling, which declared the unconstitutionality of congressional pork at the height of controversies involving Janet Lim-Napoles.
In his defense, Rep. Andaya claims to 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 caters 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).
“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,” the labor leader added.
Ka Leody emphasized that the “deafening silence” of the 292-member Lower House on the issue of congressional pork, especially the Minority bloc points to a “besmirched institution that is teeming with defects”. He noted 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 are in cahoots as congressmen and senators are all perpetrators and accomplices to perpetuating the outlawed pork barrel system,” he adds.
De Guzman pointed out that the High Court, in its landmark decision, broadly defined as illegal, “...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”. Among those deemed prohibited under the ruling are “all informal practices of similar import and effect...”
He explains 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 estimated.
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 that it would campaign against candidates who are involved or are in favor of congressional pork in next year’s midterm elections. “Lintik lang ang walang ganti,” De Guzman concluded.