MANILA, Philippines – A whopping P63 billion has been allotted under the proposed P4.1-trillion budget for 2020 for acquiring right-of-way (ROW) for infrastructure projects.
On Sunday, September 15, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 2nd District Representative Johnny Pimentel urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to be transparent about the ROW allocations in their respective budgets.
“To foster greater transparency, we are renewing our call for both departments to post on their respective websites the list of payees, the amounts paid, and the properties acquired to pave the way for infrastructure projects,” said Pimentel.
“This is crucially important, considering that the allocations for ROW spending appear as lump sums in the budget,” he added.
Under the 2020 budget, DPWH has allocated P44 billion in ROW expenses, while DOTr has set P19 billion for it.
The DPWH would be spending a bulk of the said funds for the contruction of new roads, flyovers, and bridges, while the DOTR will be using the money for new aviation, railway, and maritime projects.
Public works funds became the subject of controversy following multiple accusations of illegal insertions made in the DPWH’s proposed budget for 2020. The budget deadlock caused a months-long delay in its passage and led to the government reenacting the 2018 budget in the first quarter of 2019.
President Rodrigo Duterte was able to approve the 2019 budget only in April, but he made sure to veto the controversial multibillion-peso funds under DPWH.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano already said it would be unlikely for the House of Representatives to reinstate in the 2020 budget the P95-billion infrastructure funds that were vetoed by the President. – Rappler.com