P255 billion budget for flood control questioned
Sen. Francis Escudero on Friday questioned Malacañang’s request for Congress to allot P255 billion for flood control projects in 2024, noting that the government’s proposed annual spending program for next year was awash with such projects.
“This is clearly a misallocation of resources that does not even follow the administration’s own economic blueprint and development vision,” Escudero said in a statement.
“It is too big for [flood control],” he said. “Flood control is not bad per se. It is needed … But it should be [allocated with] the right amount, not by opening the floodgates of money.”
Under the proposed P5.768-trillion National Expenditure Program for next year, the senator said the planned outlay for such infrastructures was bigger than the entire budget of three major state agencies—the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of National Defense.
He said the allocation for food control initiatives was P100 billion more than the recommended spending for railways and even dwarfed the P31-billion budget for irrigation systems.
Said Escudero: “The [allotment for] irrigation is like a creek while [the proposed spending for] flood control is a mighty river.”
Bigger than DA budget
“In fact,” he stressed, “[the allocation for] flood control is bigger than the entire agriculture budget, which has been earmarked P181 billion for 2024.”“If we are spending more for draining water and dredging rivers than for planting food, then what is the justification for this?” the senator asked.
Worse, he said, the government would be utilizing more public funds on flood control than beefing up the country’s territorial defense in the wake of China’s belligerent actions in the West Philippine Sea.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman earlier said that the government had set aside nearly P216 billion for the Flood Management Program of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
This was revealed by Pangandaman following the widespread flooding caused by Typhoon “Egay” (international name: Doksuri) that inundated certain areas in Metro Manila and several provinces in Luzon.
She said other government agencies, among them the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, would also receive separate appropriations for flood control.