Senator admits double allocations in 2023 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, who is tasked with defending the Marcos administration’s proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, admitted on Sunday that infrastructure projects amounting to about P2 billion had “double entries” in the government’s spending program this year.
Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee, vowed, however, to keep the government’s expenditure plan for next year free from multiple allotments as earlier disclosed by former Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
He said the matter was actually briefly discussed during the deliberations of the Development Budget Coordination Committee in the Senate two weeks ago.
It was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, he said, who first noted the “double entries” in the budget items of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which were all approved under the 2023 General Appropriations Act.
Reverted to Treasury
“That’s why we had it removed from the DPWH. Yet despite that, a total of about P2 billion worth of projects … had duplicate items,” Angara said in a radio interview.
“That [amount] was not used. It was reverted back to the national treasury,” he said. “Those funds could have been used to build more classrooms or roads.” Shoddy gov’t work According to the senator, they already directed the Department of Budget and Management to be more cautious and to use a more modern system to ensure the efficiency of the budgeting process.
“The software they used was outdated. That’s why the double entries were not traced,” he said.
“As I’ve said, even students are now able to trace double entries in their term paper or thesis. Why can’t the government do that in handling [public] funds?” he added.
All state agencies seeking congressional support for their expenses in 2024 would be required to check if there are items with more than one entry in the spending program they submitted, according to Angara.
“Definitely, we will hold the agencies accountable because those things should not happen in the 21st century. We should not commit such basic mistakes because government resources will be wasted,” he stressed. Last week, Lacson claimed in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that 45 projects in this year’s approved budget and 26 others in the proposed 2024 National Expenditure Plan had “double, triple, quadruple and quintuple appropriations.”
The former senator, known for his anti-corruption advocacy, said this “excessively, unreasonably, unnecessarily and unconscionably” bloated the budget from 109 percent to 328 percent.
“Sadly, nobody seems to mind at all,” Lacson lamented.