P4.56B in ‘pork barrel’ for ARMM inserted in 3 Mindanao regions’ budgets, says Lanao lawmaker
CEBU CITY — At least P4.56 billion in “pork barrel” funds for infrastructure projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were inserted in the budgets for three other regions in Mindanao, according to a lawmaker.
In a statement, Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte’s 1st district questioned the move during the recent deliberations for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget at the House of Representatives.
He said he told the plenary that the P4.56 billion in pork barrel funds for infrastructure projects in the ARMM were included in the DPWH budget for Regions 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 12 (Central Mindanao).
“This is in addition to the P10.1 billion in infrastructure budget passed by Congress for the ARMM. Thus, there are actually two fund sources for infrastructure projects in the ARMM in the 2019 budget,” Dimaporo said.
The budgets allocated for DPWH Regions 9, 10, and 12, he explained, were P21.2 billion, P42.14 billion, and P16.37 billion respectively.
However, Dimaporo said the Regional Development Councils did not endorse the amounts since there were some P4.56 billion inserted into these budgets for infrastructure projects located in the ARMM.
The P4.56 billion, he said, was separate from the P10.1 billion infrastructure fund approved by the ARMM’s Regional Economic Planning Board.
After a short deliberation in the House, Dimaporo said Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City’s 1st district, the sponsor of the DPWH budget, admitted that the P4.56 billion in infrastructure budget “lodged” into the DPWH budget for the three other regions was a political accommodation for the ARMM legislators.
According to the statement, Lobregat responded to Dimaporo’s interpellation and said: “I think we have to look at the realities on the ground. We have the congressmen and congresswomen in the ARMM here in Congress, and they, too, are proposing certain projects to be implemented in their own districts.”
“If you look at the historical performance of the ARMM, unfortunately, the implementation by the ARMM was really found wanting, and it is because of this situation that the congressmen from the ARMM placed their different appropriations that they have identified in the three regions,” the statement quoted Lobregat as saying.
Lobregat also explained that it was unfair for the congressmen not to have any allocation in their own districts since there are national roads also in the various districts in the ARMM, the statement said.
In rebuttal, Dimaporo said there was no inventory of national roads in the ARMM, hence the allocation of P4.56 billion for national roads in the ARMM was questionable.
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