MANILA - Several district and party-list lawmakers are "parking" funds or realigning budget allocations to areas beyond their jurisdiction, a lawmaker said Friday, days after House officials alleged that there were anomalous insertions in the proposed 2019 national budget.
Sorsogon 2nd District Rep. Deogracias Ramos Jr. confirmed that the initial P2.7 billion worth of infrastructure projects in his district rose to P5 billion after some of his colleagues diverted their allocations.
"May mga congressman o may mga party-list ganiyan na mayroon rin silang allocation, may pinark sa akin. Ang ibig sabihin 'yun pala dinagdag doon sa aking allocation," Ramos told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.
(There were congressmen or party-list [representatives] who parked their allocations to my district. It means they added their allocation to my district.)
"May nagpa-release ng P1 billion for infrastructure through a certain party-list," he said.
(There was a release of P1 billion for infrastructure through a certain party-list.)
"Then mayroong another congressman, 'di ko alam saan niya kinuha 'yung pera na binigyan rin ako ng P500 million, dumagdag 'yung aking allocation ng plus another P300 million. Ewan ko saan ito," he said.
(Then there was another congressman, I don't know where he got the funds but he gave my district P500 million, then another added P300 million. I don't know where they got it.)
Ramos declined to name the lawmakers involved.
The Sorsogon representative said he only discovered that funds were added to his district after the money was remitted to the regional office months after the 2018 budget was approved.
Asked if he returned the money after he found out, Ramos said, "Hindi ko papasauli, sayang ang pera kailangan ng imprastraktura ng aking province."
(I did not return it because my province needs infrastructure funds.)
"'Yung P1.5 billion plus [na] pinark sa akin ng ibang pulitiko, ang nagpagawa, ang nagpa-bidding regional office pero mino-monitor ho namin 'yung pera [para ito] ay nagagamit sa tamang paraan," he said.
(The P1.5 billion plus that politicians parked in my district was used to implement projects that were bidded out by the regional office, but we are monitoring the money to ensure that it is used properly.)
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said Ramos' statement "opens a Pandora's box."
"What is also unbelievable, Secretary Diokno has no inkling that the DBM allocated and released P10 billion in infrastructure projects for Sorsogon province just for the 2018 budget alone," Andaya told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
Andaya accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of inserting P51 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways' proposed budget for 2019.
Diokno then said the "augmentation" was P75 billion as government needed a bigger infrastructure budget.
Andaya’s allegations against Diokno came shortly after Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that the districts of Andaya, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and their allies ended up with huge congressional allocations in the 2019 budget being deliberated in Congress.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider Andaya's appointment. Malacañang has said the President continues to trust the budget chief.