SEN. Panfilo Lacson questioned the apparent double appropriations or overlapping of projects in the proposed P4.5 trillion 2021 national budget amounting to over P6.832 billion.
The senator raised this issue late Wednesday evening during the deliberation of the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Lacson also deplored that when it comes to the senators’ individual insertions in the national budget, they would look like “barangay kagawad” (village councilor) compared to their counteŕparts at the House of Representatives (HoR).
He said district representatives’ insertions range from P620 million to P15.351 billion. “Distinguished colleagues, all I can say is pity yourselves. Those of us who may have individual insertions would look like ‘barangay kagawads’ compared to our HoR counterparts.”
“There’s a list of 739 line items for MPBs (multipurpose buildings) with a uniform allocation of P1 million each. If a P2 million project would only come up with a skeletal structure can you imagine how an MPB with P1 million allocation would look? Ang total po lahat nito (all of these totalled to) P474,804,707,000,” he stressed.
Lacson added, “Now we’re looking at billions, from one to 220 districts more than P1 billion. Our source here is the HoR itself. And according to our sources, they had a hand in the preparation of this list. So I am not blaming the [public works] department when it appears this way.”
“Practically, it is the congressmen who made this list. Remember when we questioned the P396 billion in lump sum appropriations, they came out with an addendum. But the addendum exceeded the P396 billion, it reached P474 billion,” he said in Filipino and English.
Meanwhile, Lacson cited one example of alleged double appropriation. He referred to the P1.791 billion budget for the repair of Davao City Coastal Bypass Road, Bago Aplaya Times Beach Roxas Ave, Davao City. But there is another allocation of P4.049 billion for Davao City Coastal Bypass Road Bago Aplaya Times Beach Roxas Ave. Davao City.
“We’d like to get an explanation because this appears to be a double appropriation, only one item. There’s no sectioning. The description of the items is the same. It appears that it’s only one project. If we add P1.709 billion and P4.449 billion, the total amount of duplicated projects would be P6.169 billion,” he pointed out.
The proposed DPWH budget was deemed submitted in plenary past 1 a.m. on Thursday, during the hybrid marathon plenary session.