Andaya: Senate poured P83.9B for ‘pet projects’ in post-ratified 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Just like the House of Representatives, the Senate also made post-ratification changes in the 2019 national budget, increasing by P83.9 billion the allocation for their “pet projects” under various departments.
House appropriations panel chair Rolando Andaya Jr. revealed this Thursday, countering Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s claim that only the lower chamber made adjustments to the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) after both chambers ratified the bicameral conference report on the budget measure.
“In truth, the Senate made similar adjustments after ratification of the bicam report and increased by P83.9 billion the allocation for their pet programs and projects under various departments and agencies,” the Camarines Sur 1st District congressman said in a statement.
These adjustments, he said, were submitted to his committee by members of the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office beginning February 11, or three days after Congress ratified the 2019 budget on February 8. He also said the Senate submitted its budget adjustments bit by bit until March 8.
The alleged P83.9 billion for senators’ pet programs was the amount Andaya earlier said the Senate “unilaterally decided” to cut down from priority projects in the spending bill, including those under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure plan.
This time, he detailed where the P84 billion went.
According to Andaya, the biggest increase, totaling P26 billion, was realigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to fund infrastructure projects that were also itemized by the Senate.
Next was the realigned fund to Department of Health (DOH), which was given an additional allocation of P17 billion. Of this amount, P10 billion was earmarked for the Health Enhancement Program and P1 billion for “Malasakit Centers.”
Andaya said other institutions that received major portions of the Senate’s budget adjustments include the following:
- Senate – P1.7 billion
- Office of the Vice President – P215 million
- Department of Agriculture – P597 million,
- Department of Education – P2.5 billion
- Department of Energy – P110 million
- State Universities and Colleges – P2.5 billion
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources – P289 million
- Department of Information and Communication Technology – P2 billion
- Department of Interior and Local Government – P1.2 billion
- Department of Justice – P1.3 million
- Department of Labor – P2.1 million
- Assistance to Local Government Units – P997 million
Andaya stressed that these submissions were fully documented.
“The House has copies of videotapes from our CCTV cameras showing the entry and exit of LBMRO staff during the submission of the Senate realignments from Feb. 11 to March 8, 2019,” Andaya said, adding that if Sotto and other senators wish to get a copy of the videotapes, they can send them to Senate anytime.
The country would continue to operate under the 2018 reenacted budget until President Rodrigo Duterte signs the expenditure plan for 2019, which was sent to Malacañang last March 26. Duterte earlier said he would not sign an illegal budget proposal.
Despite the word war between the two chambers of Congress, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Wednesday the P3.8 trillion national budget for 2019 would be signed soon.
“I think it will be signed soon… Every year, the President does line-item vetoes. So they’re just working now I think on what will be the line item vetoes. But there’s already a date for us to go to Malacañang,” she said. /kga
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