Lacson denies sponsoring P25M Tarlac road project, hints of a ‘hatchet job’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Saturday denied being a sponsor of a P25 million road concreting project in Tarlac, which is a “local item” in the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, saying it may be a “hatchet job” to put him in a bad light.
“First, I don’t realign appropriations for road projects, much less local roads since it smacks of a pork-barrel allocation,” Lacson said in a statement.
“Also, the realignments I propose in the national budget are institutional – meaning, they have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from the implementing agencies concerned,” he added.
The senator said he received information about the road project when he got a call from Tarlac City Mayor Maria Cristina Angeles relaying a message of thanks for the road project.
The contractor was reportedly about to start the road construction in Barangay San Rafael in Tarlac City.
“Without imputing malice to the mayor, this may be a hatchet job intended to put me in a bad light since I have consistently and diligently advocated for the active involvement of the local government units (LGUs) in the preparation of national budget and their just share in the allocation of funds,” Lacson said.
He noted that this comes after he revealed that the Executive and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) withheld the release of P80 million realigned by some House representatives to pet projects in their congressional districts, at the expense of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
The DBM later said that the funds might still be released, but only after it was reviewed and if there are some projects that are ready for rollout.
“This is the reason why I keep questioning such congressional interventions which should have been processed and endorsed by the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) after going through proper deliberations in the different local development councils,” Lacson said.
“If you recall, I particularly questioned why projects endorsed by local development councils constituted a mere 25-percent share in the national budget, compared to the 75 percent initiated by national agencies,” he added.
Lacson later added that he hopes that a “disconnect” will end with the DBM’s policy to require agencies to secure certifications from RDCs for projects to be included in the proposed national budget for 2021.
“Local government units, especially those in far-flung areas, are in the best position to know their constituents’ needs and priorities,” he said.
“What is important is to end this big disconnect between the needs and priorities of LGUs and the national budget. So long as this disconnect exists, poor provinces will get poorer because they cannot get the funding for the projects that will address their needs and priorities,” he added.
Edited by MUF
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