MANILA- Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday said he can justify his proposal to cut the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by P50.7 billion.
Lacson had earlier admitted he had earned the disapproval of some lawmakers over his proposal, including Sen. Cynthia Villar, mother of DPWH Chief Mark Villar.
"I am very confident that I can justify the cut that I proposed and which was approved in plenary. I just hope we will stick to the issue at hand instead of misleading the public," Lacson said in a statement.
Lacson had pushed to cut over P50.7 billion from the DPWH budget for projects that had right-of-way issues and moved that the funds be realigned instead to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, for the chalk allowance for teachers, feeding programs, and for the population survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Speaking to ANC on Friday, Sen. Villar said the budget changes should be studied since it would be "unfair" to realign funds from road projects that have no right-of-way issues.
She noted that there was a misunderstanding over projects that had right-of-way issues.
Lacson, however, denied any misunderstanding, saying they have been asking the DPWH since October to separate right-of-way and civil works costs in the department's proposed infrastructure projects for 2018.
"Si Sen. Villar pa nga mismo nag-manifest sa floor nung plenary deliberations namin on the DPWH budget na kaya raw malaki lagi underspending ng ahensya, kasi ang mga politiko daw, insert ng insert ng budget para sa road projects eh hindi pa naman daw settled ang ROW (right-of-way) problems kasi hindi nga daw makakapagsimula ang civil works pag unresolved pa ang ROW. Ngayon, siya mismo kumokontra sa sinabi niya," Lacson said.
Lacson said DPWH failed to justify the allotment of funds in its budget proposal.
"They failed to justify the rest of the Php 62.1 billion leaving P50.7 billion from the P 62.68 billion. This is in addition to another P18.389 billion that they failed to disaggregate up to this date," he said.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are set to meet in a bicameral conference to straighten out differences in the proposed 2018 national budget.
The measure will then be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.