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Lacson firm that House planned to give P1.5B each to deputy speakers

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 9/25/2019 Dalangin-Fernandez, Lira
Panfilo Lacson et al. posing for the camera: Ping Lacson from Senate FB Ping Lacson from Senate FB

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday stood pat that leaders of the House of Representatives initially planned to increase their ‘pork’ allocations by billions from the 2020 budget.

But, he said the plan was aborted.  

Lacson earlier said that sources told him that each 22 deputy speakers will get as much as P1.5 billion, while each House member will get P700 million.

“When I went back to my office yesterday morning, I tried to recheck tapos sinabi niya hindi naman nag-push through. Well and good. Yung P1.5 billion for deputy speaker kasi chineck ko uli sa source and I called up another source and confirmed na hindi na tinuloy ‘yan,” he told reporters.

He said even the plan to give P700 million to each congressmen was also dropped.

The House will instead seek to augment its proposed P14-billion budget for 2020 by P1.6 billion due to the expected increase in personnel and expenses, including those coming from the appointment of 22 deputy speakers, up from just 12 in the last Congress.

On Monday, Lacson disclosed that he received information from some members of the House that each congressman will be given P700 million while each deputy speaker will receive P1.5 billion. 

The senator said House deputy speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte texted him earlier in the day to deny his allegations.

“Rep. Villafuerte, he texted me a while ago, siyempre sabi niya, there’s no truth na may attempt. Sabi ko I stand by my sources. And hindi lang isang source because I make it a point na pag may information na dumating sa akin, I always look for a second validating information. Kasi mahirap yung isa lang ang source,” he said.

Despite the dropping of the plan, Lacson said he will continue scrutinizing the budget that will come from the House.

“Yes, madali naman ‘yan. We have also a copy of the NEP (National Expenditure Program) and it is easy to juxtapose, and i-matrix mo lang ‘yan makita mo saan nagbago,” he said.

He added Villafuerte told him that the House will transmit to the Senate a version of the budget bill that will “even exceed your expectation.”

“Iyan ang kanyang commitment. I don’t know what he means by that. But we’ll just await the GAB 2 (General Appropriations Bill 2) because that’s the House version,” he said.

The senator admitted that he cannot understand the different statements from the House leaders.

“Ngayon hindi ko alam ang sinasabi ni Rep. Salceda na P100 million each. ‘Yan ang hindi malinaw because they already passed the budget on third and final reading, approved na eh. So I cannot really understand kung bakit may small group committee, which I am trying to clarify with Rep L-Ray kasi siya ang deputy speaker for finance,” he said.

“The Speaker himself admitted na may request talaga na at least not lower than P500 million ang nire-request, meron din sinabi na P1.6 billion or 1.5 billion for deputy speakers. So ‘yan ang medyo magulo,” he added.

Lacson was also baffled with the statement of Representative Fred Castro that GAB2 is “as is, where is.”  

“Kung as is. where is, exact replica ang kanilang GAB 2 that will be transmitted to the Senate, ng NEP, ang President’s budget, anong dineliberate nila sa floor? Unless ang plano nila is, okay padala natin ang replica ng NEP na ‘yan, ang ating HOR version, then later on introduce nila ang amendment but when? Sa bicam? E lalong medyo sneaky yata ‘yan di ba?” he said. —LDF, GMA News

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