Lacson wants P50-B cut in 2018 DPWH budget, legislators complain
Some lawmakers from the upper and lower houses of Congress opposed the slashing of P50 billion from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s allocation under the Senate version of the 2018 national budget.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, proposed the P50-billion cut in the budget of the DPWH due to unresolved right-of-way (ROW) issues involving road projects.
“Kasi hindi mo pa nase-settle ‘yung dadaanan ng kalsada, paano ka magtatayo ng kalsada?” Lacson pointed out during an ambush interview.
Lacson said the unresolved ROW issues was the “main culprit” for the DPWH’s “huge unused appropriations.”
“Pinondohan ‘yung civil works and yet hindi pa nareresolve ‘yung right-of-way. So kung hindi pa nga nare-resolve o naayos ‘yung ROW, paano magco-commence ang civil works?” Lacson stressed.
Explaining further his proposed DPWH budget reduction, Lacson said there were also “John Does” and even “Unknown” persons in the list of claimants who must be paid for their supposed right-of-way
Lacson admitted that there were many senators and congressmen who protested his decision.
“Ang sabi ko, hindi ko alam na projects niyo ‘yun. Malay ko ba, eh alam ko naman wala na talagang pork,” he said.
On Monday next week, Lacson would call representatives from the DPWH to defend the retention of their budget.
“Tatanungin namin ang DPWH papano babayaran ng Republic of the Philippines si John Doe? Papaano magi-issue ng cheke ng Landbank si “John Doe” at “unknown”?” he noted.
Following a bicameral conference at the House of Representatives, Senator Cynthia Villar and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles expressed dismay over Lacson’s move when asked about it in separate chance interviews.
“Sino namang may akala na pati kami macu-cut? Tapos pati si Senator Zubiri nagco-complain, bigla kong binasa. Nakita ko meron din sa Las Piñas. Hindi ko ma-imagine na macu-cut kami eh very worthy project naman,” Villar said.
Villar herself was a former representative of the lone district of Las Piñas City. Her son, Mark, also a former Las Piñas City congressman, is the current secretary of the DPWH.
“I know how they feel kasi kung wala namang probelma, bakit naman hindi tutuloy ang project?” she said.
Meanwhile, Nograles admitted that he was “surprised and alarmed” by the P50-billion cut from the DPWH’s appropriations, considering that this cover many of President Rodrigo Duterte’s flagship infrastructure program dubbed as “Build Build Build.”
“Nabibigla kami kasi gano’n kalaki movements and right now I’m trying to temper my statements because I’ve not seen the items, the particulars, but kung summary ang pagbabasehan, alarming ‘yung ginawang deductions,” Nograles said.
But Lacson said the senators and representatives whose projects were affected by the proposed budget cut would be asked to air their side so that the contention would be resolved. /kga
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