slams ‘shameless admission of congressional pork’ by Deputy Speaker
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
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.