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Belmonte brushes off Santiago allegation on pork in 2015 budget: It’s her opinion

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House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday shrugged off the claim made by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago that the 2015 proposed budget is still tainted with pork barrel.

“That’s her opinion. [There’s] no pork in our budget,” Belmonte said of Santiago’s claim.

“We will maintain what we approved. It is constitutional and common sense,” he said.

Belmonte defended the new definition of savings approved by the House of Representatives in the 2015 national expenditure program, which Santiago claimed that “two dangerous minefields” in the budget that could lead to corruption.

Section 68 of the General Provisions of the General Appropriations bill defines savings as “portions or balances of any programmed appropriations which have not been released or obligated as a result of the discontinuance or abandonment of a program, activity or project resulting from any of the following reasons:

  • Discontinuance or abandonment of the program, activity or project resulting from natural or man-made calamities
  • Non-commencement of the program, activity or project for which the appropriations is released at the beginning of the year
  • Decreased cost resulting from improved efficiency during the implementation or after the completing by agencies of their program, activity or project
  • Difference between the approved budget for the contract and the contract/bid price

Savings may likewise refer to available balances of appropriations arising from unused compensation and related costs pertaining to unfilled, vacant or abolished positions, non-entitlement to allowance and benefits, and leaves of absence without pay.

Budget Secretary Butch Abad also said that there is no pork barrel in the P2.6 trillion budget.

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