Alvarez, Fariñas point to executive branch for districts infra funds
MANILA, Philippines — Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and ex-Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas have pointed to the executive department for the infrastructure allocations their respective districts will receive under the proposed 2019 national budget.
This came as they deny knowing about the House leadership’s claim that their districts received the lion’s share of the “inserted” infrastructure funds in the planned budget for next year.
Both lawmakers said they do not even know the amount allocated for their districts as indicated under the National Expenditure Program (NEP), which, they noted, were prepared by the executive branch.
According to Alvarez he does not know what House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. was talking about and that “Congress has nothing to do with the preparation of the National Expenditure Program (NEP).”
“I don’t know with him. I have not attended a single budget hearing. I have not seen the NEP,” Alvarez told reporters in a text message on Tuesday.
The Davao del Norte 1st District congressman also admitted he was not aware of the amount of infrastructure fund his district would be getting in 2019.
“Honestly, I don’t know. As I’ve said, I have not seen the NEP. Congress has nothing to do (with) the preparation of the NEP. It’s solely an executive function,” Alvarez pointed out.
Fariñas also said he does not know the allocation for his district but argued everything listed in the General Appropriations Bill was in the NEP submitted by the Office of the President.
“I left the Majority two days after the SONA when I joined the Minority, and there is no way I could have added anything to it. I did not attend any budget hearing since then as I was on medical leave starting Sept. 15 when I suffered injuries from Typhoon ‘Ompong’,” the Ilocos Norte 1st District congressman noted.
Fariñas, however, said he would not be surprised if the amount Andaya revealed was accurate “since my district has one of the longest national highways in the country from Laoag to the boundary of Cagayan province.”
“The bridge alone for the Laoag-Bacarra bypass road is about P1B (multiyear allocations),” he added.
In a letter that Andaya is set to submit to President Rodrigo Duterte, the lawmaker explained that in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill approved by the chamber, Alvarez’s district would have the biggest fund for infrastructure projects worth P5 billion.
On the other hand, Fariñas’ district would get P3.5 billion, while former appropriations chair Karlo Nograles’ 1st District in Davao would receive P4 billion, according to Andaya.
“Nung binigay nung executive (department) ‘yung budget dito, ‘yung tatlong officials (Alvarez, Fariñas, Nograles) were in the top 10. Number 1 si former Speaker. Pagkatapos (maipasa) dito sa House, number 1 pa rin siya, top 10 pa rin sila,” Andaya said. /kga
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