Drilon calls budget insertions ‘anomalous’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has branded as “anomalous” the huge “insertions” being uncovered in the 2019 national budget.
At Tuesday’s plenary deliberations on the budget, Drilon expressed disbelief by the admission of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that it was not aware of the P16 billion earmarked for “other financial assistance to local government units” included in the agency’s proposed budget next year.
On Senator Panfilo Lacson’s queries, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año through Senator JV Ejercito, who was defending the agency’s budget, repeatedly said the DILG was not aware of the said allocation.
“Yes, the DILG has no knowledge of this fund,” Ejercito said when Drilon pressed the issue.
At this point, the Minority Leader cited a similar revelation in the House of Representatives about the P75 billion alleged “insertion” in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) without its knowledge.
Lacson pointed out that from the P7 billion proposal of Malacañang, the budget for local government units (LGUs) assistance ballooned to P16.08 billion in the House of Representatives.
Drilon then asked if the DILG was even aware of the originally-proposed P7 billion.
“They are not. They did not propose…so it’s just all DBM (Department of Budget and Management) but it’s lodged under the assistance to local government units or Algu,” Lacson said.
Ejercito confirmed this, saying the DILG did not know about the P7 billion budget and the P9 billion, which was later added by the House.
“You know, I’ve been looking at budgets for the last 20 years, this is the first time I hear this kind of substantial amounts where the implementing agencies not knowing anything about these insertions,” Drilon said.
“This is something anomalous,” he added.
The Minority Leader then asked the technical staff of the Senate committee on finance to find out how much more “insertions” have been made without the knowledge of implementing agencies.
“How many more of these kinds of insertions have been made?” Drilon asked.
“We’d like to request our technical staff in the committee on finance to examine the budget and look for this,” he added.
On Lacson’s suggestion, the DILG agreed to realign the P16-billion budget to other items.
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