Lacson sees Senate passing budget before year ends; to flag unvetted ‘insertions’

A SENATOR with a track record of flagging budget bills for insertions of pork said he expects the P5.02 trillion spending plan for 2022 to clear the Senate before Congress takes its yearend break in December.

“While we are inside the Senate and assuming our duty as senators, we will be legislators first and foremost,” Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said in a statement, dismissing any potential distractions posed by preparations for the May 2022 national elections.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said Wednesday that he also expects prompt passage by the chamber if the House transmits the spending plan to the Senate by Oct. 1.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee has set the expenditure ceiling for the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) at P5.024 trillion, up 11.5% from a year earlier.

Mr. Sotto has said that given the ever-larger amounts being devoted to the budget, “we truly need to be clear about where the money will be used.”

Mr. Lacson said if he believes projects are “inserted” into the budget without proper planning preparation, and without assurances that the agencies can implement them properly, he will call for officials to be questioned in executive session if necessary.

“What is unacceptable is that projects that did not go through planning and vetting are inserted into the budget bill, and there is no way for the implementing agency to determine if the project will not be substandard,” he said.

Mr. Lacson said he will seek to examine closely spending plans for vaccines, research and development, and local government units. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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