MANILA, Philippines – The two P50-million budget insertions that Sen. Panfilo Lacson insists are anomalous for are not double entries for just one project. They're actually for two projects – two different bridges with the same name, according to Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
Revilla pushed for the insertions, according to a report by Sandra Aguinaldo that was aired on Tuesday over 24 Oras, GMA Network's early evening newscast.
Revilla said the insertions were requested by Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla.
The bridges are both named Aguinaldo – one is on Governor's Drive and the other is in Aguinaldo town – and the budget for each is P50 million.
On Monday, Lacson presented in his privilege speech more alleged double entries in 2008 National Budget.
Lacson noted a P50-million outlay for Aguinaldo Bridge in Cavite province, which was included under the widening of Governor’s Drive (Carmona-Dasmariñas-Trece Martires City Road, including bridges).
It appeared in a different entry under the same heading for the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highway — again for the repair and rehabilitation of Aguinaldo Bridge in Cavite.
Revilla stressed that there was nothing anomalous in his insertions, adding that he had already explained it to Lacson.
"May investigation tayo. Malalaman natin ang katotohan dito, and according to him (Lacson) wala naman daw problema doon [We have an investigation. We will know the truth about this, and according to Lacson, he has no problem with that.]," Revilla said.
For his part, Lacson said he was yet to confirm the explanations of Revilla.
"Papano pag-release ng pondo non? Baka magkaroon ng double entry din ang labas [How would the funds for that be released. It might still end up having a double entry.]," Lacson said.
But Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, chair of Senate Committee on Finance, said Lacson’s claim of double release of funds for the same project is impossible.
"Yung budget is only an authorization. You conduct a public bidding to fund the project and implement it. It is impossible to duplicate a public bidding for the same project," Enrile said.
And despite their bickering, the senators were one in approving the scrutiny of the national budget to ensure that public funds are being spent wisely.