Lacson eyes removal of P16 billion from DPWH right-of-way budget
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson is eyeing once again the removal of at least P16 billion in right-of-way funds under the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
During the Senate finance committee's hearing on the proposed DPWH budget on Monday, September 3, Lacson again questioned the DPWH for failing to comply with Republic Act 10752 or the Right-of-Way Act, which mandates that ROW issues must be settled first before project implementation.
Lacson said the P16 billion in the 2019 budget could be used as pork barrel, which the Supreme Court earlier declared as unconstitutional.
He said he would push for the deletion of the item if the DPWH fails to explain the details of the funding.
“Sa 2019, ang nakalagay dun parang P16 bilyon. Isang P10 billion at saka isang P6 billion,” Lacson told reporters on Monday, September 3. (For 2019, it's P16 billion: P10 billion and another P6 billion.)
“We will ask it to be deleted because the previous year, they restored it. Most of that were just insertions of congressmen, and not really meant for the projects,” he said in Filipino.
Under the proposed budget, Lacson said the P16 billion is lumped under the DPWH’s central office and is part of the P28.89 billion total ROW allotment under the 2019 proposed budget.
Lacson explained that P6.19 billion ROW was for completed projects while another P10.5 billion was for ongoing and future projects.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar denied there is pork barrel in the agency's budget.
“There is no pork barrel. This is all budgeted. When you talk about pork barrel, these are discretionary funds. There are no discretionary funds, these are all line items,” Villar told reporters.
The Senate finance committee will continue hearing the proposed DPWH budget on Tuesday, September 4.
The total proposed budget of the DPWH for 2019 is P555.7billion, P93 billion lower than the 2018 allocation due to the shift to cash-based budgeting. (READ: DPWH on cash-based 2019 budget: ‘Challenging, but we will adjust’) – Rappler.com
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