Sorsogon solon denies getting P10B for infra projects in 2018
MANILA, Philippines — A Sorsogon congressman has belied receiving P10 billion for infrastructure projects in 2018 amid controversy hounding the proposed 2019 national budget.
Sorsogon 2nd Dist. Rep. Deogracias Ramos Jr. clarified he only received around P2 billion from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) this year, while he proposed P2.790 billion for next year’s infrastructure fund.
On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. bared the entire Sorsogon province received P10 billion this year while another P6 billion was in the proposed 2019 budget for the province.
But Ramos also admitted some party-list solons have requested to “park” their funds in his district.
“Itong sinasabi ni Andaya na Sorsogon got P10 billion projects, tanungin ninyo sa kanya i-break down ito… Mali ang projection ng amount. I did not receive P10 billion in my district (in 2018). Ang proposal ko for 2019 ay P2.790 billion… Noong 2018 more or less 2 billion plus,” Ramos told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview on Thursday.
Sorsogon has two legislative districts. The first district is currently represented in Congress by Congresswoman Evelina Escudero.
According to Ramos, he has been receiving a lot of requests for funds to be “parked” in his district but refused to name the party-list representatives.
“Merong mga congressman na nagpapark, nalalaman na lang namin kung ano, ang engineer tatawag, ‘Sir, meron ditong SARO (Special Allotment Release Order), project ito ni ganito’, eh di sabi ko eh ‘di ayusin n’yo,” he explained.
“I remember merong nilagay sa aking na 1 billion nung 2018 o 2017, hindi ko alam ‘yun (kung para saan)… May nag-park sa akin nung una P800 million, sa regional office binagsak ang pera,” he added.
Ramos continued: “I have letters from three party-list members advising me that they are releasing such amount. May isang letter 500 million sa distrito ko, may isa 200 million, 75 million.”
But the lawmaker said he was inclined to accept the funds for the sake of his district, which, he noted, was among the poorest in the country since 20 years ago.
“In fairness to them, hindi naman masama ang kanilang ano, aayawan ko ba yan? Ang money will be invested in a project in my district. Sabi ko nga sa’yo Sorsogon is among the 10 poorest countries since 20 years ago,” Ramos explained.
To recall, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez had already revealed this scheme of some congressmen “parking fund” in September but he refused to name names.
The Sorsogon congressman believed his province is being made “collateral” in the feud between the House leadership and Budget Chief Benjamin Diokno, as he also defended Escudero.
“Si Andaya kalaban nila sila Diokno. Hindi ko kilala ‘yung contractor o kung may relasyon siya sa mayor,” Ramos said.
“Collateral kami nitong away ng leadership ng House at saka si Diokno, that’s the bottom line, that’s how we see it… Mas marami pang congressman ang nagpa-park sa iba’t ibang distrito,” he added.
Ramos said he initiated an investigation into these requests for “parked” funds or projects.
Andaya and Suarez have been accusing Diokno of orchestrating the “insertion” of some P75 billion infrastructure fund in the proposed 2019 national budget. They believed Diokno purportedly did this without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte and the DPWH.
But Diokno has denied this.
Andaya further said district congressmen were also not aware of these funds allotted to their districts.
The Camarines Sur congressman also tagged a Bulacan-based single proprietorship CT Leoncio Construction and Trading as involved in what he branded as “large-scale scam” since it bagged billions of pesos in government contracts in various provinces across the country based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacañang to Congress.
He said CT Leoncio Construction and Trading cornered P2.5 billion of the P10 billion released to Sorsogon this year.
The NEP, which contains the breakdown of proposed allocations in government, was prepared by the executive branch.
Andaya made his exposés after Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got P2.4 billion in “pork barrel” funds while he got P1.9 billion. Both denied Lacson’s allegations. /kga
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