MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday flagged some P345.25-billion in lump sum lodged in the Department of Public Works and Highways' (DPWH) proposed 2021 budget, saying it is "most unusual" for this much to remain unitemized in a funding request.
The amount in question includes lumped funds as follows:
- P201.2 billion for road construction projects
- P29.04 billion for bridge construction projects
- P65.38 billion for flood management program
- P49.63 billion for convergence and special support program
"This is the first time that I see from the DPWH budget around P345 billion in lump sum appropriations. This is most unusual," Drilon said during the DPWH budget hearing at the Senate.
"This kind of budgeting does not augur well for our policy of transparency," he said, noting that the DPWH submitted a 1,200-page addendum to the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Drilon noted that of the P201.2 billion for its road program, P16.23 billion is allotted for road widening of primary roads, P14.48 billion for secondary roads and P6 billion for tertiary roads.
"These are huge lump sum amounts. We do not know how to deal with this," he said.
"This is a challenge for the committee and the Senate to be able to scrutinize these huge lump sum items," he said.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said that the annex of projects was belatedly submitted as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only informed the DPWH about their funding ceiling on July 16, a day before the deadline of budget submissions.
"They (DBM) allowed us to submit an annex to detail the projects because we wanted to be as transparent as possible with the budget so we wanted to take our time," Villar told senators.
"We don't want lump sums. We wanted this budget to be as detailed as possible... It may not be ideal, but the reality is we could not do it in a single day," he said.
Villar denied that the delay was due to last-minute lobbying from lawmakers who wanted funding for their pet projects in their respective districts.
Under the law, lump sum appropriations - or amounts allotted for unspecific projects - are considered illegal.
The Senate Committee on Finance should "disaggregate any lump sum item in the budget in the spirit of transparency," Drilon said in a statement.