Senate gives in on right-of-way budget
The impasse is over.
The Senate has capitulated to the House of Representatives’ demand to restore the bulk of the P50.7-billion right-of-way (ROW) funding of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in bicameral discussions on the 2018 budget.
The House contingent, however, agreed to slash about P4 billion from the DPWH’s ROW and civil works allocation, according to the chair of the House appropriations committee.
Most contentious issue Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the two chambers reached an agreement on Monday on the most contentious issue involving the senators’ proposal to cut the DPWH funding, which had worried House members whose projects might be stalled in their districts.
“The good news is [the impasse] has been broken,” he said in a television interview.
“[On Monday] we came into an agreement that the budget cuts that were done by the Senate, particularly on DPWH, will no longer push through based on our meetings. So that will not carry in the bicameral committee version,” Nograles said.
Asked to give details, he said: “We’re finalizing still but much of the P50.7-billion cut will be restored. So we’re looking at probably, maybe P4 billion to be cut.”
Nograles said the senators pushing for the DPWH budget reduction might have misunderstood the importance of the ROW budget.
Without civil works
“What Sen. [Panfilo] Lacson wanted was, ‘Let’s do right-of-way without the civil works.’ The problem [with that] is we very well know that once you are able to get the settlers to relocate but they don’t see any infrastructure being done, then chances are those settlers will come back,” he said.
“On the ground, right-of-way issues really have to be resolved while the project is being conducted. So it’s like a chicken-and-egg problem. If you don’t put the budget for right-of-way, then you don’t have anything for the government to use in order for the settlers there to vacate,” he added.
The House and the Senate are trying to reconcile differences in each chamber’s version of the P3.767-trillion budget. They hope to ratify the budget by next week.
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