The failure of the Philippine Congress to pass the 2019 budget puts the May local and national elections in peril. This was disclosed by Commission on Elections Spokesperson James Jimenez on Friday, February 1, in a press briefing.
Without the general appropriations bill approved, the national government will have to operate on a re-enacted budget — that is, the same budget as that in 2018. The problem is that last year’s budget does not contain provisions for the conduct of the midterm elections especially the honoraria of election workers.
The Comelec needs some P3.2 billion for the May polls. This includes the procurement of necessary election paraphernalia, training and compensation of election workers.
The budget deliberations was stalled when Senator Panfilo Lacson exposed pork barrel insertions in the proposed budget. This included the multi-billion insertions of House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Arroyo and Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya.
To save face, Andaya expounded the expose’s of Lacson and made allegations targeted at Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, and the practice of inserting and parking pork barrel in other districts. (Why Andaya kept pounding on Diokno, read here.)
The pork barrel is budget appropriation of government funds for projects aimed at securing money to a representative’s district. This has been declared illegal twice by the Philippine Supreme Court.