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Pork requests mar 2020 budget hearing

/ 05:45 AM September 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday admitted that the House of Representatives remained in a quandary over the requests of dozens of lawmakers to restore or increase public works funding for their districts, saying the problem was “unsolvable” for now.

“We have asked the affected congressmen, be patient, because where will we get the P60 billion?” the Taguig representative told reporters.

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Cayetano was speaking of lawmakers who wished to realign billions of pesos in public works projects which had either been slashed during preparation or vetoed from the current P3.6-trillion budget.

‘It’s difficult to promise’

“It’s very difficult to promise them anything now,” he said, adding that it would be a tall order to identify funding sources considering budgetary items had already been laid out.

On Tuesday, the 300-strong chamber began floor deliberations on the P4.1-trillion budget proposal for 2020 in plenary session.

Appropriations panel chair Isidro Ungab sponsored and began his defense of the budget proposal.

The House will hold two-week marathon hearings on Monday through Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. The last day is set on Sept. 20.

The House leadership wants to approve the 2020 budget bill by the first week of October.

‘Hanging pork’

An opposition lawmaker called attention to what she described as “hanging pork” in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) after discovering an apparent P1.79-billion discrepancy in the agency’s regional allocations.

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On the first day of plenary deliberation on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas noted that the stated total for the regional allocation of the DPWH budget was P1.79 billion short of the actual total when adding up the public works funds for each region.

Based on the proposed P534-billion DPWH budget, allocations for the country’s 16 regions were pegged at P183.86 billion.

But the figures didn’t match the individual columns, since adding up the allocations for all regions would arrive at a different total of P185.65 billion.

The Gabriela lawmaker said the DPWH should explain the disparity.

Without explaining how she arrived at her conclusion, Brosas said the P1.79 billion was a likely source of corruption.

Meanwhile, the militant Makabayan party list bloc on Tuesday warned that the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget would continue to fund unequal development and inadequate social services, while pouring more funds for the supposed repression of people’s rights.

Opposition lawmakers scoffed at the President’s budget message that the proposed budget was intended to “strengthen the processes for peace and progress.”

The group fears that the proposed budget will promote greater inequality, concentrating massive wealth in the hands of a few, while consigning millions of Filipinos to poverty, unemployment, and inadequate and unaffordable basic services.

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TAGS: 2020 national budget, Alan Peter Cayetano, pork insertions
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