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Elago slams Alvarez’ zero budget threat to bully, silence opposition

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Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago slammed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for threatening to give zero budget to provinces that would not support Charter change and the switch to federalism, saying he was using government funds to “bully” the opposition.

She said Alvarez’ statement “reaffirms the existence of pork in the 2018 budget,” after he made a similar pronouncement of having slashed infrastructure budgets from 24 opposition lawmakers and political enemies last December.

“Kabataan Partylist vehemently condemns not only the existence of pork barrel in the national budget despite having declared unconstitutional years ago but also the outrageous use of these funds as political leverage to bully and threaten the opposition,” the Makabayan lawmaker said.

“We reiterate that public funds should be directly allocated to infrastructure, health, housing, education, and other social services,” Elago said.

Alvarez earlier warned the opposition that “zero budget” awaits those who will oppose the shift to federalism of the ruling supermajority and the Duterte administration.

“Siyempre, ‘yung ibang probinsya ayaw nilang makisama, o ‘di zero sa budget. Ayaw ko rin, hindi ba? Alangan namang kayo kasama, ‘yung leaders nila ayaw sumama. Alangan namang pantay?” he said in Iloilo.

Elago said, “As staunch advocates against the pork barrel system, we and other representatives of the Makabayan bloc have refused to claim any part of the pork fund since it has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court for being contrary to law and vulnerable to being used for corruption.”

“With every budget season, we have actively exposed existing pork barrel in the national budget; yet again, we are faced with the reality that the powerful obey no law or Supreme Court decision other than those that favor them,” she added.

“Apparently, the US-Duterte regime can just bully their way into forcing charter change and whatever their head honcho Duterte wants,” Elago said.

“They must be totally desperate to meet their May 2018 deadline for charter change, knowing that the Filipino people are already learning about their fascist maneuvers and are ready to stand against an impending full-blown dictatorship,” she added.

“With all the more reason, we must maintain our vigor to fight against tyranny — or else, we face another decade with a madman on the loose,” Elago said.