Press Release
November 30, 2017

Drilon calls for budget transparency

In the spirit of transparency and to ensure a "pork-free" budget, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon asked the Senate Committee on Finance to justify the substantial additions and reductions that the committee proposed under the P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget.

This was after Drilon noticed that the budget of some agencies next year increased substantially in the senate version, while the others suffered a deep budget cut.

The Senate passed the proposed budget on Wednesday. The bicameral conference committee is set to meet today do discuss the disagreeing provisions between the House of Representatives and Senate versions.

"May I propose that the good sponsor submit in plenary the justifications for the amendments that are over P1 billion?" Drilon asked, to which Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, agreed.

Drilon also wanted that the proponents of the amendments to be specified and spread into the record.

"We would like the committee to submit to each member of the senate, and for the record, the nature and purpose of these changes in the agencies' budget, particularly those with over P1 billion in addition," he stressed.

"We cannot leave our people in the dark as it would only fuel speculations that pork barrel is still thriving despite the Supreme Court's decision declaring it unconstitutional," Drilon said.

The minority leader said the people would want to know why the Department of Interior and Local Government, where the Philippine National Police's budget is lodged, is proposed a substantial addition of P1.65 billion in the next year's budget, as well as the Bureau of Customs, whose budget was increased by P1.49 billion.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which was recently tasked to implement the administration's anti-drug campaign, is proposed to receive additional P1.21 in its budget.

In contrast, some of key agencies suffered a deep budget cut including the Department of Public Works and Highway, whose proposed budget for next year decreased by P26.40 billion under the Senate version. The budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was also decreased by P1.84 billion.

Drilon also noticed that there are items in the budget whose appropriation decreased by billions of pesos in the Senate version. These include the Pension and Gratuity Fund, whose proposed budget under the Senate version decreased by P17.08 billion, as well as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Fund with P8.1 billion decrease, and the Miscellaneous Personnel Bene?ts Fund with P4.66 billion reduction.

Drilon said that some of the amendments may have been requested by the agencies or proposed by the members of the chamber and adopted as committee amendments by the finance.

"We would like the committee to submit for the record the additions and deductions made and what programs are affected," he added.

He said that in view of the concerns of the public regarding the alleged "pork" in the budget, it is best to shed some light into the budget."

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