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Lacson says DPWH budget cut is justifiable

/ 11:10 AM December 01, 2017

Sen. Panfilo Lacson INQUIRER.net file photo

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday said he is “very confident” that he can justify the slashing of the P50-billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which earned the ire of some legislators.

“I am very confident that I can justify the cut that I proposed and which was approved in plenary,” Lacson said in a text message to reporters.

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“I just hope we will stick to the issue at hand instead of misleading the public,” he said.

This was Lacson’s response to some senators and House lawmakers who opposed the budget cut, arguing that continuing infrastructure projects and road works in their respective areas will be affected.

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Senator Cynthia Villar, whose son Mark Villar is the DPWH secretary, was among those who protested the department’s budget cut.

Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, proposed slashing the budget of the DPWH due to unresolved right-of-way (ROW) issues, which the plenary in the Senate approved.

According to Lacson, unresolved ROW issues were the “main culprit” for the DPWH’s “huge unused appropriations,” which he said Senator Villar agreed to.

“Si Senator Villar pa nga mismo nag-manifest sa floor noon plenary deliberations namin on the DPWH budget na kaya raw malaki lagi underspending ng ahensya, kasi ang mga politiko daw, insert ng insert ng budget para sa road projects eh hindi pa naman daw settled ang ROW problems kasi hindi nga daw makakapag simula ang civil works pag unresolved pa ang ROW,” Lacson said.

(Senator Villar was even the one manifested during the plenary deliberations on the [Senate] floor for the DPWH budget that the huge underspending of the agency was due to politicians who wanted to insert budget for road projects even the issues of ROW remain unresolved and civil works will never begin because of the issues.)

“Ngayon, siya mismo kumokontra sa sinabi niya (But now she’s coming out opposing what she had said earlier),” he added.

The senator pointed out that there were also “John Does” and even “unknown” claimants in the list of claimants who will be paid for right-of-way.

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On Monday next week, Lacson said he will call the representatives from the DPWH to defend the retention of their budget.

Senators and representatives whose projects were affected by the cut will also be asked to air their side so that the contention would be resolved. /jpv

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