UNA smells something fishy in DILG’s 2014 budget

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UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco: Something fishy. SENATE POOL FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is raising a ruckus over some P1.9 billion in the 2014 budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that has been allocated for housing, climate change and potable water projects.

UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco said in a statement that these projects had nothing to do with the duties of the DILG, and warned that the money may turn out to be the administration Liberal Party’s (LP) own pork barrel fund.

The DILG is headed by LP president Mar Roxas, expected to be one of the presidential contenders in 2016.

This early, UNA said it suspected that raising the DILG budget could be part of a campaign buildup for the presidential race in 2016.

UNA is expected to field one of its leaders, Vice President Jejomar Binay, for president then.

The items in the DILG’s proposed 2014 budget that have Tiangco worried are a P1.24-billion allotment for a housing program for informal settlers residing in danger areas in Metro Manila; P573 million for a potable water supply project for municipalities and barangays, and P76 million for enhancing local government capacities for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

According to Tiangco, other government agencies had the jobs of relocating informal settlers, putting up potable water projects and mitigating climate change. He said he could not see why the DILG had to be given extra funds to undertake the same programs.

“Why would we give extra appropriations to the DILG for housing, a water system and climate change when there is already budgetary support for key government agencies handling these concerns? Are climate change and housing core competencies of the DILG?” he asked.—Leila B. Salaverria

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