P20 billion worth of projects 'parked' in 2020 budget: Lacson

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2019 04:59 PM

Agencies don't know how funds will be used - Lacson

MANILA - Some P20 billion worth of projects were "parked," or have no specific allocations, in the 2020 budget that the House of Representatives approved in September, a senator said Sunday.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has long waged a crusade against discretionary allocations in the national budget, said some of the projects were "parked" under the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

"May mga napansin din kami na may mga hindi malinaw kung saan dadalhin ang pondo. Nagkakahalaga ito more or less estimate namin, nasa mga P20 billion," Lacson said in a radio interview.

(We noticed some items that were unclear where the fund will go. It's worth more or less P20 billion.)

"Hindi malinaw. Naka-park ito kung saan-saan. Sa tingin namin ay hindi ma-implement nang maayos o hindi ma-implement at all, dahil hindi maliwanag o kaya naka-lump sum."

(It's not clear. The projects were parked everywhere. We think the projects will not be implemented smoothly or at all because the allocation is unclear or in lump sum.)

Lacson said the projects could not be considered as "pork barrel" as these were already included in the national expenditure program (NEP) that government submitted to congressmen.

"Nang tanungin namin ang ahensya mismo sa committee hearing kung ‘alam nyo ba kung saan gagamitin ito?’ Ang sagot nila ‘hindi namin alam,'" he said.

(When we asked members of the agency during the committee hearing if they know where the fund will be used, they said they "don't know.")

Lacson said more than P10 billion was "parked" under DPWH, citing a P500 million repair project for Kennon Road, one of the major access roads to Baguio City.

“Kailangan may kilometer so and so to kilometer so and so, itemized. Pero kung napakalaking bulto, kalahating bilyong piso, at sasabihin mo napaka-general ng description, di mo alam saan 'yan so hindi maimplementa 'yan," he said.

(It has to be itemized. If it's a big bulk, half a billion pesos, with a general description, they don't know where it will go so it will not be implemented.)

The issue of parking surfaced last year after congressmen allegedly realigned budget allocations to areas beyond their jurisdiction. This delayed the approval of the 2019 national spending plan and forced government to run on a reenacted budget.

Malacañang on Monday urged Lacson to identify the projects so President Rodrigo Duterte could remove these. In the 2019 budget, Duterte vetoed some P95.3 billion worth of projects, of which P75 billion were public works "insertions" applied by congressmen.

Camarines Sur Rep. L-Ray Villafuerte, House deputy speaker for finance, maintained that the budget the House submitted to the Senate was free of "pork."

"We need to know first kung ano 'yung P20 billion. Kasi baka naman hindi pwedeng galawin 'yun. Kasi dapat siguro i-details ni Sen. Ping (Lacson) which line item," he said.

(Maybe we can't move the fund. Sen. Ping should detail which line item.)

"Basta kami ano talaga pork-free, no parking 'yung talaga ang sinabi ng Speaker, tinanggap naman ng lahat ng members."

(The budget we submitted was pork-free, the Speaker said "parking" was not allowed, which all members accepted.)

--With reports from Zandro Ochona and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News