MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday, January 30, expressed confidence that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will exempt big-ticket infrastructure projects from the election ban.
In a media briefing, Diokno explained that requests to exempt some public works projects from the election ban had been granted “several times before.”
“We’re confident our request will be approved,” he said.
Reiterating the earlier statement of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Diokno said they were seeking exemption for 75 flagship infrastructure projects and a few others that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will identify.
The budget chief added that the Comelec should consider that the best time for construction is during the dry months, even when the period coincides with the election ban.
“Our budget for infrastructure projects is close to P1 trillion…. We’re hoping they allow us at least half a trillion pesos [worth of projects],” Diokno added.
The ban on public works construction will stretch from March 29 to May 12. (LIST: 2019 election-related bans)
Diokno said that they are ready to submit a memorandum to President Rodrido Duterte noting their request, which will be transmitted to the Comelec after the Cabinet meeting next week.
Currently, no new projects are being implemented because of the reenacted budget. This had pushed back the construction of some infrastructure projects. (READ: What to expect as gov’t operates on a reenacted budget)
The 2019 budget is set to be passed in February, once the bicameral conference committee reconciles their conflicting versions of the budget bill. – Rappler.com
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