Solon: ‘Lost soul’ blocking release of funds for pet projects

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    AN administration lawmaker yesterday said a “lost soul” is trying to block the release of district allocations for congressmen under this year’s P4.1-trillion national budget.

    In a privilege speech, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, a former majority leader in the 17th Congress, urged his colleagues to unmask the person’s identity.

    Castro said a source told him of the individual’s plan to deprive congressional districts of much-needed funds for projects in the countryside.

    “Noong araw ng Lunes habang ako ay nag-mumuni-muni sa halamanan ng ating Mababaang Kapulungan, isang paru-paro ang dumapo sa akin at ang paru-parong ito ay bumulong na ayon sa kanya ay may isang ligaw na kaluluwa ang nagtatangka na harangin ang paglagay ng pondo o alokasyon ng mga congressmen (Last Monday, when I was in a moment of reflection at the garden of the Lower House, a butterfly landed on me and whispered that there’s a ‘lost soul’ who’s trying to block the fund releases for congressmen’s projects),” Castro told the plenary without naming names.

    Castro’s speech was delivered almost a week after Sen. Panfilo Lacson announced that Malacañang has blocked the release of some P80 billion in infrastructure funds that some House members have allegedly tried to realign from the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure programs this year to their pet projects.

    Lacson, who is known for his personal crusade against the old “pork barrel” system and congressional insertions in the annual national budget, said earlier this month the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Public Works and Highways have discovered that the realignments were taken from some flagship projects which the solons “feel is a bit too much.”

    Lacson also said the withheld realignments were made by some lawmakers who had the “unmitigated gall” to funnel funds from BBB flagship program to their districts.

    Malacañang has already backed the DBM’s decision to withhold the fund’s release, saying requesting parties will need to pass certain requisites first.

    In the past, Castro and Lacson have had lengthy exchanges in the media over the senator’s allegations that the House-approved version of the budget is riddled with pork insertions.

    In his speech, Castro said the unnamed culprit has also been trying to stop the implementation of projects that are already in the pipeline even if these are already expected by congressmen’s constituents.

    “Ginoong Speaker, hindi ko alam kung bakit may nagtatangka na harangin ang alokasyon ng mga kinatawan ng Mababang Kapulungan. Hindi ko rin maarok kung bakit ganito ang damdamin ng ligaw na kaluluwa sapagkat ang pagharang ng pondo at pagpapatupad ng mga proyeto ng mga kinatawan ng sambayanang Pilipino ay hindi lamang laban sa mga kinatawan kundi ito ay laban sa mamayang mga Pilipino (Mr. Speaker, I don’t know why someone would block the allocations of the representatives of the Lower House. I also cannot fathom the stand of this lost soul because blocking the funds and the implementation of these projects would be against not only the representatives but the Filipino people),” Castro said.

    The congressman said that since the move might affect the delivery of important services in the countryside, his colleagues are already mulling exposing the identity of the “lost soul.”

    “Ibinulong pala sa akin ng paru-parong ito na pinag-uusapan na rin sa bulwagan ng mga kasamahan ko na may pina-plano pala na isiwalat kung sino ang ligaw na kaluluwang ito sapagkat sila ay naghihimagsik at sila ay nang-gagalaiti (The butterfly whispered to me that it was already being discussed in the halls of Congress to expose the identity of this lost because they are revolting and fuming),” he said.