Proposed P225-B flood control budget for 2024 is ‘too big,’ says Escudero
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed P225 billion budget of national government for flood control projects next year is “too big.”
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero made this remark after Senate heard the reasons provided by the executive branch for the appropriation.
In a statement on Friday, Escudero said the amount is larger than what is being recommended for building new classrooms, hospitals, irrigation systems, and railway constructions.
“It is too big for tubig (water),“ he insisted.
“Flood control even beat our railway budget by over a P100 billion. Railway budget is only P153 billion and irrigation at P31 billion,” the senator enumerated.
“Parang creek lang ang irrigation while flood control is a mighty river,” he made the comparison.
“In fact, flood control is bigger than the entire agriculture budget, which has been earmarked (at) P181 billion for 2024,” he went on.
According to Escudero, he does not understand how the executive branch can justify the need to spend more for flood control compared to planting for food security.
He also noted even the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) of the Palace is not focused on flood control.
“If we are spending more for draining water and dredging rivers than for planting food, then what is the justification for this?” Escudero asked.
“Ang kapal ng dokumentong iyan (on medium term plan). Tatlong beses lang na-mention ang sa flood-control sa Infrastructure and Disaster Resilience chapters,” he explained.
(That document is thick. But flood control was only mentioned three times in the Infrastructure and Disaster Resilience chapters.)
“Wala sa MTPDP na nagsasabi na ang national economic reconstruction ay through canal excavation,” he observed.
(Nothing in MTPDP says the national economic reconstruction will be through canal excavation.)
According to previous reports, the executive branch allocated P225 billion for flood control with the goal of reducing flooding in major areas like Metro Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga.
P215.6 billion of the funds will go to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The other flood control appropriations can be broken down into the following undertakings:
Bulacan Angat Water Transmission Project: P7.4 billion
Pampanga Integrated Disaster and Risk Resiliency Project: P1.3 billion
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Flood Control Project: P1.3 billion
Last Wednesday, several Senators, including Escudero, grilled government’s economic team as to why such a huge budget was given to flood control.
Among those who questioned the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) was Senator Joel Villanueva, who initially called for a probe into the P215 billion allocation for DPWH.
Villanueva also expressed his frustrations about the absence from the budget of a 60-kilometer floodway for Region III — which Bulacan, his hometown, is a part of.
Bulacan was recently hit by huge floods due to the southwest monsoon and Typhoon Egay.
Last August 10, DPWH defended the proposed amount for flood control.
It explained the funds would solve the perennial flooding problem in National Capital Region and Central Luzon.