Lawmakers say P 28-B gov’t fund for barangays ‘pork barrel,’ too
MANILA, Philippines — Two opposition lawmakers on Monday strongly rebuked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the P28.1-billion barangay development program (BDP) of the government’s anti-communist task force, which they described as a form of “pork barrel.”
The P28.1 billion worth of development projects will be used to rehabilitate barangays supposedly liberated from communist rebels, according to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
But Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas insisted during the House budget hearing on the DILG that the multi-billion allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) for 2022 was considered pork barrel, which the Supreme Court had declared illegal.
“We are puzzled because if there is no list of barangays that will be given P20 million each under the BDP, if there is no breakdown of the P28.1-billion proposal, this is lump sum, this is pork barrel,” Brosas said.
During the deliberations, Año said 1,406 barangays freed from communist rebels’ influence would receive the funds.
Año said the list of barangays to be covered by the BDP were already submitted to the Department of Budget and Management, adding that the DILG would provide a copy to the House of Representatives before it starts the plenary deliberations on the 2022 national budget.
He said the DBM would directly release the budget to the identified barangays, adding that it would no longer pass through the DILG.
This year, the NTF-Elcac received P19 billion, including P16.4 billion worth of development projects for more than 800 barangays nationwide.
“How can we be assured that the projects of the NTF-Elcac are implementation-ready? Some lawmakers’ projects are blocked for not being implementation-ready, but in this case, there is already an allotment for BDP,” Brosas said.
She earlier warned that the P28.1 billion could be President Duterte’s election war chest to buy votes from barangays and campaign against the opposition in 2022.
At the same hearing, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro pointed out that in 2021, at least 81 barangays from Davao City, which she said was a highly urbanized area, received funds from the NTF-Elcac’s BDP.
“Does this mean that the Davao City government is useless because 81 barangays were neglected?” Castro asked.
Under the 2021 BDP fund, P1.64 billion was allocated to Davao City, the hometown of Mr. Duterte.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said the NTF-Elcac’s budget next year was prone to “misuse and abuse.” INQ
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