Intramurals for leadership control in the House of Representatives have mutated into the issue about congressional insertions within the 2020 national budget, otherwise known as pork barrel.
The propriety of congressional insertion is a two pronged proposition. Positively it might benefit the district where the funds are intended to be spent. Negatively, when secrecy shrouds it, the insertions are susceptible to a ground swell of suspicion about corruption.
Pork barrel from one hand may be a classic example of parochialism but provided that the funds as allocated are spent honestly, credit must be given to 2nd District Representative L Ray Villafuerte who worked hard for the insertions. Moreover, as was once said by a prominent politician of yesteryears,” what are we in power for?”
Others who used to hold sway in the apportionment of the government funds also employed the same tactic. From the point of view of a pragmatic politician, failing to secure a larger share of the funds obtainable is too naive. Hypocritical, the Senior Deputy Speaker must be thinking.
Inclusion of projects outside of the 2nd District of Camarines Sur where Representative L-Ray Villafuerte comes from, raises a question about motivation because there is a strong possibility of multiple allotment, given that the 2nd district solon in justifying a huge chunk of his congressional allotment mentioned projects that are not within his jurisdiction.
Among them are the “iconic ” provincial capitol complex located at Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur which is in the 3rd District, worth millions of pesos, road concreting, bridge construction and multipurpose buildings.
The list also includes the long delayed completion of the proposed provincial hospital in sitio Banasi, Pawili, Bula , Camarines Sur which is part of the 5th District. The structure has become not only an eyesore but virtually a white elephant.
There is a possibility that while these projects are claimed to be funded from the Senior Deputy Speaker’s congressional allotment, they are also included in the annual budget of Camarines Sur.
That is why the revelation by Board Member Romulo Hernandez of the SP Committee on Appropriations that Cam. Sur’s 2020 annual budget has allotted 150 to 200 million pesos as counterpart for the capitol complex, is a welcome development.
The statement however is wanting of information on the status of the provincial hospital project, rendering functional of which is an urgently felt need.
This is so given the usual overcrowding that bugs the Bicol Medical Center (BMC), plus the worsening traffic congestion partly attributable to the region’s most modern health facility.
According to a public statement from the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH), Camarines Sur is now the only province in Bicol without its own provincial hospital.
Technically speaking the 2nd District solon does not hold the ball because he is not supposed to wield power in the provincial government. Besides, making public the contents of the budget is an administrative function. The Sanggunian Panlalawigan particularly the members of the finance committee have the ball in their possession. They should therefore resolve what seems to be a simple concern.
Prioritizing the provincial hospital is very well justified.