Velasco did not meddle in agency realignments under 2021 budget — Yap
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco did not have a hand in realigning the funding of agencies under the proposed 2021 budget, the House’s appropriations chair said amid claims that infrastructure allocations for his allies increased while those meant for allies of former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano decreased.
“Wala po akong nakita talaga na nilipat from allies ni [former] Speaker Cayetano papunta sa allies ni Speaker Velasco. In fact, to set things straight, si Speaker Velasco, hindi siya nakialam dun sa mga amendments ng agencies,” House appropriations panel chairman ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap said in an interview over ABS-CBN Channel on Monday.
(I really did not see any realignment from the allocations for lawmakers allied with former Speaker Cayetano to allies of Speaker Velasco. In fact, to set things straight, Speaker Velasco did not meddle in the amendments of the agencies.)
“Pinauubaya niya sakin bilang appropriations chair kung ano po yung dapat gawin. I think Speaker Velasco nakita niya yung independence ko, na hindi po ako clinging to the left and clinging to the right. I just do my job,” he added.
(He let me, as appropriations chair, do what is right. I think Speaker Velasco recognized my independence, that I’m not clinging to the left or clinging to the right. I just do my job.)
Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson found a “noticeable” increase in the budget of lawmakers allied with Velasco and cuts for those linked Cayetano, in the proposed national budget for 2021.
Lacson said among those who received budget cuts was Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, a known close ally of Cayetano who was ousted as House Speaker back in October.
Villafuerte confirmed this last week, saying a total of P386 million was slashed for three of the administration’s flagship projects in Bicol.
But Yap said it was the DPWH that made the realignment and was just adopted by his committee.
“Yung DPWH budget po, sila po ang nagbigay samin ng amendments and some of the amendments, siguro po yung sinsabi po ni [former] Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte na nawala sakanyang P386 million, that is a Build, Build, Build project, but I think nilipat ng DPWH sa mas priority, dun sa mas matatapos by the end of 2022,” Yap explained.
(In the DPWH budget, they were the ones to propose amendments to us — and some amendments, I think the one being referred to by former Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte, the P386-million cut was for Build, Build, Build, projects but I think the DPWH chose to put that budget for projects that can be finished by the end of 2022.)
“So ang bottomline po dito, ang nag-realign po is DPWH and we just adopt the amendments given to us by the department,” he added.
(The bottomline here is, it was the DPWH that made the realignments and we just adopt the amendments given to us by the department.)
Yap was also asked regarding Lacson’s proposed budget P63-billion cut to the DPWH budget, a part of which will be realigned for rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance to local government units whose areas were devastated by recent typhoons.
“I think Senator Lacson doesn’t punish agencies,” the congressman said, when asked if he thinks Lacson’s proposed cut was a “punishment” to the agency.
“Yung suggestion niya is (His suggestions is) just to help yung mga nasalanta ng (those affected by) calamities,” he added.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are set to convene in a bicameral conference committee Tuesday to reconcile their versions of the budget bill.
“We will start the bicam and we will iron things. We will find a way na magkasundo kami para sa Pilipinas. Kung saan po panalo ang taumbayan,” Yap said.
(We will start the bicam and we will iron things out. We will find a way to agree for the the benefit of the country. To ensure that the Filipino people win.)
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