Mark Villar denies knowledge of P75-B DPWH budget ‘insertions’
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar finally admitted on Monday that he has no knowledge of the P75-billion “insertions” in the agency’s budget until he saw the National Expenditures Program (NEP).
Villar first made this admission in an interview with reporters at the Senate and later during the Senate floor deliberations on the DPWH’s proposed budget.
The Secretary explained during the interview that when the DPWH submitted its budget proposal, they were given a P480-billion ceiling, which they followed.
“During the NEP stage, binigyan kami ng ceiling, e kami naman nag recommend ng ceiling (we were given a ceiling). Now after that, before it reaches the NEP, hindi naman yan fix (it’s not fixed). Me option pwedeng dagdagan, pwedeng bawasan (There is an option to increase or decrease the budget),” he said.
“Yung binigay namin, recommendatory, hindi yan batas…(What we submitted was recommendatory; it is not the law),” Villar said.
But when asked if he was not informed about the insertions, Villar said: “Ah not initially. But when it comes out in the NEP, syempre makikita mo.”
“The changes were made during the NEP. Syempre may mga changes yan, hindi naman automatic na kung ano ibibigay namin yun na yun (Of course there are changes. It’s not automatic that they approve what we recommend),” he further said.
The issue was again brought up by Senator Panfilo Lacson when the DPWH’s budget was discussed on the Senate floor.
Responding to the queries of Lacson, Villar, through Senator Loren Legarda, repeated his statement that he was not aware of the “insertions until he saw the NEP.”
“Secretary Villar, I asked him several times, says that he did not know about the P75 billion until he saw the NEP,” Legarda, who was defending the DPWH’s budget, said as chair of the Senate committee on finance.
“They insist that they submitted a (recommendation of) P480 billion to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and he discovered the P75 billion upon seeing the NEP. That’s what the DWPH says.”
But Legarda explained that it is part of the budgetary process for the agency to prepare the budget, which the DBM may “delete, increase and change” whatever is submitted by an agency. /ee
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