House panel OKs DPWH’s P534 B proposed budget for 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The House appropriations committee approved Tuesday the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) P534.3 billion proposed budget for 2020 after more than three hours of deliberations.
House members took turns in questioning DPWH Sec. Mark Villar who assured that next year’s expenditure plan has no illegal pork barrel and anomalous parked funds.
The department — whose actual disbursement increased by 142 percent from 2015 to 2018 — got the second-highest budget under the National Expenditure Plan (NEP) for the next fiscal year, next to the Department of Education.
During the budget defense, several lawmakers, including Cagayan de Oro City 2nd Rep. Rufus Rodriguez District and Negros Oriental 3rd District Arnolfo Teves Jr., condemned the huge cuts in the 2019 budget of around 60 lawmakers.
Rodriguez also accused Villar of not giving justice to affected districts, noting that Cagayan de Oro City’s P2.5 billion budget under the 2019 NEP became P300 million. The lawmaker also said he sent letters to Villar to appeal the decrease in their budget.
“Remember, compadre, I’m the one who defended the budget, it was Congress who approved… I think it wouldn’t be fair for, Mr. Chair, to say I did nothing…” Villar responded.
Teves, meanwhile, said the DPWH should ensure that they would augment the budget for those districts deprived in this year’s spending plan.
Congress’ passage of the 2019 national budget was delayed due to bickering among legislators about alleged “pork barrel” and insertions cloaked as amendments in the expenditure plan.
Former Department of Budget and Management Sec. Benjamin Diokno was also accused of “inserting” some P75 billion infrastructure fund in the proposed 2019 national budget without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DPWH, as well as district congressmen. Diokno said this should not be called “insertions” as these were “adjustments” that were part of the budget process.
In the end, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2019 budget on April 15 but vetoed some P95-billion infrastructure appropriations that were “not within the programmed priorities.” /je
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