A SENATOR has flagged P544 billion under the Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) proposed 2023 budget, which are categorized as lump-sum funds, meaning there is no information on what specific projects these will be spent for.
“In the spirit of transparency, I call on the DPWH to provide the details of this huge allocation, down to the last centavo, so the Senate and the public will be able to scrutinize it,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Martin “Koko” L. Pimentel III said in a statement on Sunday.
The DPWH is allocated P718.4 billion under the proposed P5.268 trillion National Expenditures Program (NEP).
“Every peso in the budget should be disaggregated. Hiding billions in lump sums is old fashioned. Let’s shun this practice,” Mr. Pimentel said.
Of the P544-billion appropriation, P213.95 billion is for convergence and special support programs, which includes P104.82 billion for the Sustainable Infrastructure Projects Alleviating Gap and P52.45 billion for the Basic Infrastructure Program.
Both programs, the minority chief pointed out, are similar to those outside the implementation of a national infrastructure program.
Other appropriations will go to widening of roads, asset preservation, network development, flood management and bridge program.
The senator asked for specifics such as the location of the supposed projects.
“For Congress to allow lump-sum appropriation in the budget is tantamount to giving the executive a blanket authority to spend, in the case of DPWH, P544 billion at its own discretion,” Mr. Pimentel said.
Aside from violating transparency principles, he said such block funds could be a source of pork barrel funds, which the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional in 2014.
“What I fear the most is it could be a rich source of pork barrel funds. That is why DPWH should disaggregate them and publicize the details immediately,” he said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan