Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson hopes senators in the 19th Congress will continue his crusade of tenaciously scrutinizing the national budget and keeping it free from dubious congressional insertions or “pork barrel” and useless appropriations.
“I hope somebody will take the cudgels and continue the fight because while the Supreme Court has ruled pork barrel as unconstitutional, there are so many ways to go around it,” Lacson, who ends his Senate term on June 30, said Monday.
The two-time presidential candidate added that some members of his staff, who have joined other senators’ offices, can be a great help in scrutinizing the budget for dubious insertions.
Lacson, who earned a reputation as an eagle-eyed watchman of the budget, pointed out the country cannot afford to have “pork” in the budget, which is the country’s lifeblood.
During his 18 years as a senator from 2001 to 2013 and from 2016 to 2022, Lacson saved the Filipino people at least P300 billion with his scrutiny of the national budget by flagging several irregular and inappropriate entries.
Also, he ensured that his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations amounting to P200 million a year from 2001 to 2013 would be returned to the National Treasury. This was before the Supreme Court outlawed the PDAF in late 2013.
Lacson advised the new senators in the 19th Congress to be diligent in researching the country’s laws and to be humble in learning the ropes of legislation.
“Humility is a virtue. If you are a new senator, be humble, be modest and try to learn the art of legislation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson said he is willing to share with the new administration his Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE), which provides for the downloading of funds to local government units so they can implement their development projects.
“Through BRAVE, local government units can get an equitable share of resources so that on their own, they can be competitive,” he said.