UNA questions P1.9B ‘additional funds’ in DILG budget

Tiangco says projects on climante change, water and housing in the DILG budget are outside the department's mandate

PORK QUESTIONS. UNA secretary general Rep Toby Tiangco

MANILA, Philippines – United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary-general Toby Tiangco on Sunday, August 25, questioned allocations amounting to P1.9 billion for projects on climate change, water and housing in the proposed 2014 budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Tiangco said such projects were outside DILG Secretary Mar Roxas’ scope and responsibility, suggesting that the fund could be used by the Liberal Party to prepare for the 2016 elections.  

UNA’s prospective presidential bet for 2016 is Vice President Jejomar Binay, who defeated Roxas in 2010.

Malacañang defended Roxas and maintained that the programs were part of DILG’s mandate. 

Tiangco said the P1.9-B allocation was only part of DILG’s proposed P20-B  allocation for bottom up budgeting, which aims to get communities to identify what “hard infrastructure” they need instead of the government doing it for them. 

“Why would we give extra appropriation to DILG on budgetary support for housing, water system and climate change when there are already budgetary support to key government agencies already handling these concerns? Climate change at pabahay (housing) ba ang core competence ng DILG?” said Tiangco, who is also the representative of Navotas. 

In particular, Tiangco questioned the following appropriations:

– P76 million for enhancing local government unit capacity on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. 

– P573 million for a Potable Water Supply Project for waterless municipalities and barangays

– P1.25 billion for housing intended for informal settlers in Metro Manila, with P700 million to be used for constructing “micro-medium-rise buildings” and P545 million as interim shelter fund for 40,000 families

“I believe this is the first time that the DILG has appointed itself as the champion for climate change, potable water and mass housing. Perfect na ba ang situation ng peace and order sa ating bansa na dapat bigyan si SuperMAR at kunin ang budget at trabaho na mandato ng ibang ahensya (Is the peace and order situation in our country perfect that we can give this to SuperMar and get the budget and work from other agencies),” Tiangco said. 

Programs part of DILG mandate

But Malacañang stood by the proposed budget and distanced Roxas from his department’s appropriations. 

In a text message, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters “the budget is the President’s program and this is his budget, not Sec. Butch’s or Sec. Mar’s.” 

Lacierda also denied Tiangco’s accusations. Contrary to Tiangco’s claims, he said all programs were part of DILG’s mandate. 

Among what Tiangco said were questionable projects, Lacierda said only the Sagip Buhay program for informal settler families was new. 

The rest have been in place since 2011, Lacierda said. These include: 

  • Salintubig: water for waterless towns
  • Pamana: basic infra rebuilding for conflict affected areas
  • BUB (Bottom Up Budgeting)

The current focus on the pork barrel was triggered by a scandal involving Janet Lim-Napoles and her links to lawmakers who allegedly gave her government funds that were later used by fake nongovernment organizations that installed ghost projects. – Rappler.com