P80B worth of House insertions withheld by Palace, says Lacson

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    SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said Malacañang has blocked the release of some P80 billion in infrastructure funds that some members of the House of the Representatives have allegedly tried to realign from the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure programs this year to their pet projects.

    Lacson said he received information that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) discovered that the realignments were taken from some flagship projects which the solons “feel is a bit too much.”

    He added the DBM withheld the release of the funds through a circular and tagged them “for later release,” which the senator claimed has the same effect of a veto.

    “Unmitigated gall. This best describes some lawmakers who tried to realign at least P80 billion from the administrations’ Build, Build, Build flagship program to their pet projects under the 2020 national budget,” Lacson said in a statement.He lauded Malacañang for withholding the release of the congressional realignments.

    “This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies,” he said.

    Lacson said President Duterte should be on the lookout for solons who claim to be his allies but “such allies have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him, but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else. The President should be wary of these so-called allies.”

    Lacson did not give additional details but it could be recalled that during the last day of the bicameral budget deliberations on the 2020 national budget, he bared a supposed last-minute insertion of some P83 billion worth of questionable and vague projects by some members of the House bicameral contingent.

    He had claimed that he discovered the insertion in a USB which contained two files – the “Source” file and the “List”, which his office received a day before the bicameral panel signed the budget bill.

    “Our preliminary scrutiny of the last minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345B that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning,” Lacson had said then.

    “Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345B or the bigger amount of P83.219B was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing. What is clear though is that there are still lump sums and vaguely described projects that are now part of the bicam report,” he added.

    The President signed the budget measure in January this year and did not veto the said projects cited by Lacson.