MALACAÑANG has allocated at least P800 million in infrastructure projects per congressional district, except for one special district which will get a whopping P5 billion, in the proposed P4.1 trillion budget for 2020, a party-list lawmaker who was a public works undersecretary in the Aquino administration revealed yesterday.
“Well, the biggest (infrastructure allocation) is in the vicinity of P5 billion while the smallest is P800 million,” Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS) party-list Rep. Romeo Momo told reporters.
Momo, a vice chair of the House committee on public works, said the list detailing how much each district will get is recorded under the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) P534.6-billion proposed budget for 2020,
Momo said he has no idea which district received the P5 billion allocation.
“Well there is no equal allocation for each district. There is an equitable allocation,” he said, explaining that the allocations as proposed by the executive in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) are based on the needs of each district,” he said.
Deputy speaker Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte last Wednesday moved to have the referral of the bill to the appropriations committee withdrawn and had it referred to the committee on rules on the ground that its filing on first reading was “premature” since some departments and other agencies of the government have yet to finish presenting their respective budget proposals in the committee level.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations chair, has accused Villafuerte of withdrawing House Bill No. 4228 to change the bill to open it to “insertions” or additional congressional allocations for chosen districts.
In a meeting presided over by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano last Tuesday, the House leadership later greed to refer the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the appropriations committee on Monday without any amendments.
Momo said that while lawmakers can make realignments, they would rather tread carefully to avoid accusations of making “congressional insertions” or inserting “pork.”
“It can be done but I think we have to be careful to realign finds because it might be misinterpreted as pork,” he said, adding: “So if for an instance we reduce the budget of one agency and transfer to another, some might call it ‘pork’ too. So I think we should avoid such things.”
Momo said lawmakers can move to realign some funds during the period of amendments on the floor “but not amend it so much to go beyond (the NEP).”
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano had made it clear that congressmen will not have their own discretionary allocations under the 2020 budget because “there’s no exact amount that will be given to congressmen.”
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has vowed to work to ensure the “equitable distribution” of the funds among all districts.