Cynthia Villar wants to drastically cut Pasig River rehab body’s budget

MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) has successfully brought life back to what was once considered as a biologically dead river and received international recognition.

Senator Cynthia Villar wants to cut the body's budget by half.

During the budget deliberations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday, September 27, Villar said she wanted to slash some P145 million worth of projects under PRRC.

PRRC, which is asking for P261 million for 2020, is planning to use a big chunk of the funds for housing and resettlement.

Villar believes that the PRRC does not have the capacity to do such and wants resettlement to be handled by the National Housing Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, and local government units.

“I’ve been working with [PRRC], they can only do clean up and may be public [information], but they cannot do relocation,” Villar said.

The PRRC has approached the waterways cleanup as an urban settlements issue.

“I’ve done so many relocation in my life. Ang importante sa kanila iyong maihanap mo sila ng bahay kasi very limited ang number of houses doon [sa NHA]. And then give them some money so that when they relocate, syempre hindi sila makakatrabaho. At least, meron silang spending money siguro for two weeks,” Villar added.

(What is important for informal settlers are houses because there are very limited houses from the NHA. Then give them some money so that when they relocate, they can look for jobs. At least, they have money for 2 weeks.)

The PRRC has yet to issue a statement regarding the proposed budget cut.

Villar’s proposal comes weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte placed PRRC under the DENR’s watch.

Duterte has likewise fired PRRC Executive Director Jose Gotia due to alleged corruption.

The agency has had its share its controversy, including the Commisison on Audit flagging it for low accomplishment rates for some of its projects.

State auditors said the commission spent P107.568 million out of the P111.078 million allotted for the clearing of 6 waterways. The projects, however, only posted an accomplishment rate of 1% to 27.65%. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.