By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Thursday chided his colleagues in Congress for twisting the meaning of a constitutional provision that Congress has power of the purse, meaning the lawful disbursement of taxpayers’ money.
“But some legislators interpret that provision, the power of the purse, to mean power over the purse. And worse, some, power to steal from the purse,” Lacson said as he pushes through with his anti-pork barrel advocacy.
“The power of the purse is based on that Constitution provision, that no money coming from the Treasury could be disbursed without specific congressional appropriation,” he explained.
Lacson said Article VI, Section 29 of the 1978 Constitution states that no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.
House of Representatives leaders have rejected Lacson’s claim and maintained that there are no pork barrel appropriations in the proposed 2019 P3.757 trillion national budget.
Even Senator Loren Legarda, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee that analyzed and subjected the proposed national budget to public hearings, denied that there are “pork barrel” appropriations.
There are reportedly P52 billion worth of “pork barrel” projects in the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), with P4 billion in pork barrel appropriations split between two ranking House leaders.
“If only we legislators will adhere to and follow the budgeting process and comply strictly with the ruling of the Supreme Court on Belgica vs ES Ochoa, then life could be simple and easy. That’s the bottom line,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“The problem is that some legislators are trying to circumvent the budgeting process and the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel. Yan ang problema (that’s the problem),” he added. (Manila Bulletin)