Lacson flags P10B infra funds realigned by senators within DPWH budget
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson spotted “questionable” realignments in the Senate version of the 2021 budget, including at least P10 billion realigned for infrastructure projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget.
“We already found some realignments that may seem questionable, based on our preliminary examination. For instance, while some of my recommended slash from the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget was adopted, we also noticed at least P10 billion worth of infrastructure projects realigned within the same agency under the Senate version,” Lacson said in a statement on Wednesday.
The senator earlier proposed a P63-billion cut on the budget of the DPWH after he flagged billions worth of funding for projects that either remain unfinished after receiving allocation in previous years or redundant ones.
While some P31 billion was deducted from the DPWH budget, Lacson noted that P10 billion was added to it afterwards.
“If the appropriations were slashed from infra projects and realigned to other infra projects within the same agency, what do you make of it?” the senator told INQUIRER.net in a separate message.
“In all the years we’ve been scrutinizing the budget, they don’t look like institutional amendments to me,” he added.
Lacson said they are still working on finding out the complete details for the projects.
“While we can identify the locations of the Senate-realigned projects, we may not be able to identify the senator-proponents,” he said.
“This is the reason why I have always called for transparency in all our individual amendments by posting the same on our official websites for the media and the public to see,” he added.
The Senate and House are currently in the middle of reconciling the two versions of the budget.
According to Lacson, he “practically demanded” that he be given a copy of the detailed Senate version of the budget before the bicameral conference committee convened on Tuesday since they only had a summary prior to the start of the meeting.
“I already instructed my staff to coordinate closely with the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) on whatever movements of funds before the final version of the bill is presented to the bicam members for our signatures and approval,” the senator said.
The Senate and the House plan to finish bicameral discussions on the budget this week or early next week.
Once Congress finalizes and ratifies the reconciled budget bill, it will be transmitted to the Office of the President for signature.
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