P53-B projects not in DPWH plan – Andaya
Some P53 billion in allocation for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has been diverted to infrastructure projects that were not originally proposed by the department, according to Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.
Andaya, chair of the House appropriations committee, disclosed this at the conference with the Senate on the proposed P3.8-trillion spending bill.
He called the attention of Sen. Cynthia Villar, a member of the Senate panel, about the alleged diversion of DPWH funds without the knowledge of her son, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Andaya initially said the amount in question was P51 billion, but later clarified that the projects were worth P53 billion.
“We cannot allow this,” he said, adding that the amount was contained in the original P484-billion budge t that the DPWH had asked from Congress.
According to Andaya, his committee would tackle the issue on Tuesday at the resumption of the congressional inquiry into the supposed irregularities in the budgeting process of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Sen. Loren Legarda, head of the Senate panel, said the matter did not come up when she defended the DPWH budget on the Senate floor.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Andaya said the information came from some “senior executives” of the DPWH.
“These are infrastructure projects that the DPWH officials said may not be implemented this year because these were not in their plan,” he said.
“They were included in the House version of the budget since we assumed that the (DPWH budget) was already cleared. But it now appears that the budget was allocated to other projects,” he said.
Andaya also furnished the Senate panel with a list of House members whose legislative districts received the biggest allocations in the still-pending proposed national budget prepared by the DBM.
Former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez topped the list with a total allocation of P8.4 billion while Romblon Rep. Emmanuel Madrona came in second with P6.8 billion.
Andaya came out with the list after Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed that billions of pesos in pork barrel funds had been earmarked for the congressional districts of Andaya and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Andaya also told senators that the “inborn defects” in the draft P3.8-trillion national budget made it difficult for lawmakers to hammer out a final version of the spending bill.
“It’s not as easy as it seems to pass this budget on time,” Andaya told the Senate panel during the conference meeting held at the Manila Polo Club.
Legarda insisted that most of the budget adjustments the senators made were based on the requests of various state agencies.
She underscored the need for the House and the Senate to come up with the final version of the expenditure program on Jan. 30 since Congress would take a three-month break starting on Feb. 6.
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