Aside from the yearly tracking of pork, Sen. Panfilo Lacson will raise hell over a new issue when the Senate begins tackling the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill in November.
Lacson said Wednesday the issue involves the Department of Budget and Management’s virtual impounding of congressional initiatives by tagging them “For Later Release.”
“I will raise an issue out of this, ang ginawa kasi ng DBM, napaka-deliberate na basta congressional initiative, they tag those amendments for FLR, For Later Release,” Lacson told Senate media in a virtual interview.
“Parang nadi-diminish if not rendered irrelevant ang power of the purse or the authority of Congress to participate in the budget process,” he added.
He said that if all congressional initiatives, regardless of whether they are individual insertions or institutional amendments, are effectively impounded by the DBM, both houses of Congress are rendered inutile as far as the budget process is concerned.
When asked to estimate how much in funds had been impounded via FLR, Lacson said, “safely we can estimate na hundreds of billions.”
He said the executive department should have just consulted the agencies concerned and asked them how much they may not be able to utilize, and then tag such funds as FLR.
Lacson said such a practice may be detrimental, citing the national broadband program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
He said he sought an P11-billion augmentation for the agency’s budget for 2020 but the amount was not released.
The budget would have helped the DICT complete its broadband network for government offices, which could save government billions.
Even the military’s 11th Infantry Division, which was ordered by the President to be organized with personnel fill-up, was impounded via FLR.
“Basta ang pattern na nakikita namin, as long as makita nilang CI, parang automatic na ang FLR,” he said.