Palace confirms budget dep't withheld P80 billion in congressional realignments

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 05:20 PM

MANILA- The Department of Budget and Management withheld at least P80 billion in congressional realignments under the 2020 national budget, Malacañang confirmed Thursday, after Sen. Panfilo Lacson scored lawmakers who allegedly tried to manipulate the spending plan.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said “there will be a process” for the release of the said funds as he recalled an earlier conversation with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado over the issue.

“He (Avisado) told me about it. He said that the P84 billion will not be released immediately but depending on the need for the release thereof. In other words, there will be a process,” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

Lacson earlier this week criticized lawmakers who supposedly tried to realign the funds from the administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program to their respective districts’ “pet projects.”

“Unmitigated gall. This best describes some lawmakers who tried to realign at least P80 billion…” Lacson said in a statement.

Several items in the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget were marked under “conditional implementation to prevent the release of funds on projects that may be "questionable," the budget department earlier said.

President Rodrigo Duterte in his budget message for this year had said that he had to impose conditions on some items to “faithfully comply with existing laws, policies, and rules and regulations, for the effective and efficient utilization of public funds.”