THE proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) contains double or overlapping appropriations, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday.
Lacson pointed to a DPWH request for its Kennon Road project: a P507 million request without specifics, and another P76 million request with specifics.
“Ang worry ko roon, baka maulit ang nakasama na P76 million sa P507 million. Matatapon ang P76 million (My worry is that the amount of P76 million might also be included in the P507 million. If so, the P76 million will just go to waste),” Lacson said during plenary deliberations on the DPWH budget.
“May double appropriation kasi exactly the same project description pero magkahiwalay ang amount. Ang iba, may overlapping. Ang iba, maraming issues. ‘Pag sinumatotal ang pera, makikita nating masasayang lang, malaki ‘yan.
(There is double appropriation because the project has the same project description but has separate budgetary requirement. In other cases, there are overlapping, while others have several issues. If we sum it up, a lot of money will be put to waste),” Lacson added.
Lacson said he discovered the two amounts having the same project description in the National Expenditure Program which was prepared by Malacañang and adopted by the House of Representatives before it was transmitted to the Senate.
He said a proposed project in Cagayan Valley had a similar case.
“Imagine sa Cagayan, nakalagay lang doon ‘requesting.’ Obviously cut and paste ‘yan. Wala pang approval, pinondohan mo na ng P10M. (In Cagayan, it says they are only ‘requesting.’
Obviously, that’s cut and paste. The amount of P10 million was already earmarked even if the proposed project has not yet been approved),” Lacson said.
He said the overlapping appropriations were a result of poor planning on the part of the government.
“Kasi kapag poor planning, nagsa-suffer minsan ang implementation kaya ang nangyayari ay ang laki ng unused appropriations (If the proposed budget was poorly planned, the implementation of the project will suffer which will result to unused appropriations),” Lacson said.
Lacson earlier said there were P257 billion in the 2019 budget which has not been used.
“That’s on account of poor planning and hindi nako-consult ang agency when some legislators submit their pet projects, hindi na-consult so hindi alam ng agency papaano i-implement. (That’s on account of poor planning because the agency concerned is not consulted when some legislators submit their pet projects. There is no consultation that’s why the concerned agency does not know how to implement it),” he said.
Lacson said there seems to be a new modus operandi employed by a number of legislators so they can insert “pork” in the proposed budget.
Lacson noted that during the past years, lawmakers insert pork when the budget proposal is being deliberated at the House of Representatives, but now, pork is introduced to a certain government agency without its knowledge or consent so it can be included when the NEP is made.
He said there are other projects in the DPWH proposed budget that Sec. Mark Villar does not know of.
“As long as there are corrupt people in government, corruption will stay. It is in the system kasi pinapayagan natin mag-submit basta ng maski anong project ang legislator na hindi kayang implement o kaya tingi-tingi ang pag-implement, for several reasons. Pwede may commission. (As long as there are corrupt people in government, corruption will stay. It is in the system because we allow legislators to submit projects which cannot be implemented by the concerned agency. There are several reasons. One of them could be that they have commissions),” he said.
When asked who stands to benefit from this, Lacson said: “I try to be blind na lang kung saan. Basta I just stick to issues. Kung may issue isang proyekto, I bring it out without minding sino ang congressman dito. (I just play blind because I only stick to issues. If a project has issues, I bring it out without minding who is behind this.) The HOR has always been fighting with me each time we tackle the proposed national budget.”
BCDA BUDGET RECALL
Senate President Vicente Sotto III approved a motion made by Minority leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Christopher Go to recall and reconsider the approval of the budget for the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
Drilon had accidentally discovered loopholes on what the BCDA plans to do with the new sports facilities that it constructed after the Southeast Asian Games which will be held in the country from November 30 to December 11.
Drilon raised the question during the plenary discussion on the proposed budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Go, who sponsored the PSC budget, failed to answer Drilon’s query and instead requested that the BCDA budget just be reconsidered.
Go said: “So, puede bang bawiin muna natin ng pagpasa ng budget since we are talking about BCDA right now, BCDA na kasi pinag-uusapan dito. Pinasa namin without question, ngayon may questioning. Binabawi ko ang approval pwede pa ba ‘yun? (Can we reconsider the passage of the BCDA budget since what we are talking right now is about BCDA [and not PSC]. We passed the BCDA budget without question, but now there are a lot of questions. So I am asking that its budget be reconsidered. Is it still possible?),” Go said.
The PSC budget deliberations was diverted to the BCDA since the latter is in- charge of the SEA Games, and not the PSC, because a number of the venues for the sports events, including the New Clark City, are under the BCDA.
Among the questions the BCDA cannot answer directly was where it will get funds for the maintenance and operating expenses of the new sports facilities built for the games.
The BCDA has a proposed P15 billion budget for 2020. Of the amount, P12 billion is allotted for the SEA Games. Appropriation for the construction of new sports facilities total P9.5 billion.
Drilon also made a formal manifestation to reconsider the passage of the BCDA budget.
“The sponsor of the BCDA is not in the hall. If we recall the submission of the BCDA, we will take it up on Monday, we just want to get all written reports,” Drilon said.