MANILA—Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned why the executive branch plans to release millions in project funds to barangays that have been cleared of communist rebels, saying the money should be disbursed through implementing agencies.
Under the 2021 budget proposal, around P16-billion—which may be used for infrastructure, livelihood and other development projects— is earmarked for barangays that would rid their jurisdictions of armed rebels.
"In previous budgets, the allocated amounts were already assigned with the agencies implementing it," Drilon said during the Senate budget hearing.
"Why is the fund given directly to local government units this time? Are they capable of implementing a P10-million road?" he said.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that barangays that cannot implement the project by themselves may "do it through the municipal government."
Drilon did not agree with the idea, saying the process will be complicated as barangays will be forced to "enter into numerous agreements with implementing agencies" instead of executive departments directly rolling out the projects intended for the villages.
The Senate Minority Leader earlier flagged the fund, saying it could be "clearly used for political purposes."
"Our problem is, we keep on creating bureaucracies. We keep on creating layers," Drilon said in an earlier budget hearing.
"Next year is an election year, and here is a secretariat who will be playing god to the barangays," he said.