Legarda: P75B ‘insertion’ ‘mutated’ in 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines —The controversial P75 billion “insertion” in the budget of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has “mutated” in the 2019 national budget, Senator Loren Legarda said on Wednesday.
“Because it already evolved into something else in the GAB (General Appropriation Bill), it mutated or evolved so I don’t know,” Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, told reporters at the Senate.
She made the remark when asked how the House of Representatives’ contingents reacted to the Senate’s move on the P75 billion lodged at the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) budget.
The DPWH’s budget was cut when the Senate approved the GAB last Monday.
Legarda did not say however if the entire P75 billion was deleted from the agency’s budget.
“Hindi naman yan P75 billion, tinanggal, lock, stock and barrel, ito yung bagong P75 billion, no. Because it’s a whole universe of the P3.7 trillion,” she said in the interview.
“So I can’t determine if you ask me exactly where they put the P75 billion because it’s part of the whole universe of the budget,” she further said.
The P75 billion was only uncovered when Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno faced the Question Hour at the House last December.
But during the Senate’s deliberations of the budget, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar admitted now knowing about the additional budget in his office until he saw the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
The NEP is Malacanang’s budget proposal, which is submitted to Congress every year.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier surmised that part of the P75 billion was equally distributed to 297 House members, each allotted P60 million for their congressional districts.
But Legarda could not also confirm if there was indeed P60 million allocation per congressman in the GAB.
“I believe that they are allowed of course to introduce amendments . I’m not sure if it amounts to P60 M per district. I’m not sure,” she said.
“Again, it does not say per congressional district. In fact, per congressional district, it should be much more than that,” Legarda said. /muf
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