Albay Rep. Joey Salceda

MANILA -- Each lawmaker at the House of Representatives will be receiving PHP100 million under the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said Wednesday.

Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, bared that of the amount, PHP70 million will be allocated for hard projects, such as infrastructure, while PHP30 million will be used for soft projects, such as medical assistance.

Asked if there were any allocations for congressmen, Salceda said: “Of course there are allocations for my constituents.”

He, however, clarified that these were not classified as priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional in 2013.

“To ensure everybody has some minimum, PHP100 (million), yes. But that’s basically PHP70 million of infrastructure and they were itemized in the NEP (National Expenditure Program) and there is no such thing as non-itemized expenditure there,” Salceda said during the weekly economic media briefing in Malacañang.

Salceda said the PHP100 million was determined by the executive branch.

He also assured that the proposed 2020 national budget would be pork-free.

“It’s free of pork based on Supreme Court standards. And the mere fact that there are new insertions… as is, where is,” Salceda later said in a media interview.

He said it is free from pork because there are no individual amendments or alignments made to the proposed budget unlike previous years.

“There are no individual amendments, there are only three institutional amendments,” Salceda said, namely amendments to develop the education, health sectors, Camp Aguinaldo and other sectors.

“It also smells, acts, quacks like a need of my constituents and it also smells, acts, quacks as if it’s allowed by the Supreme Court,” he added.

The House of Representatives is composed of 299 districts and party-list representatives.

Duterte allies working

Salceda, meanwhile, bared that the House will approve the proposed 2020 national budget on second reading on Friday (Sept. 20) and approve it on third and final reading by next week.

“So the 2020 budget, I’m sure will be approved by September 20. The earliest approved budget at the House in history,” Salceda said.

“We will approve on second reading on Friday. Parehas lang, wala nang magbabago (It’s the same, nothing changes) after second reading. Yung third reading nominal voting na yun (On the third reading, we’ll do nominal voting),” he added.

Salceda expressed hope that the Senate would also follow the House’s footsteps by passing the proposed budget as early as possible, to prove that the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte are working.

“We just wanna prove that the ‘Duterte Super Coalition’ in the House is working, and I hope the so-called ‘Duterte Super Coalition of 20’ in the Senate will do the same,” he added.

In a separate media interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that the President will veto the proposed budget should there be provisions he finds “unconstitutional.”

“Antayin natin pag sinubmit na kay Presidente (Let’s wait for it to be submitted to the President) then the President will decide if it is pork or not. He will veto it if it is against the Constitution,” Panelo said. (PNA)