Filipino taxpayers should be on guard against possible irregularities in the implementation of the government’s P9-trillion infrastructure program, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said over the weekend.
In an open forum with members of the Rotary Club of Makati Central, Lacson said taking up the role of watchdog should not be limited to legislators, as it is everyone’s civic duty.
“We should be watchful on the implementation of these projects. Losing just 20 percent of the P9 trillion to irregularities means a whopping P1.8 trillion lost to corruption,” he said.
He said the loss may potentially be much bigger than P1.8 trillion, as some contractors consider 20 percent a minimal amount that may be demanded by corrupt officials.
The government had said it is earmarking over P9 trillion for infrastructure projects through its “Build, Build, Build” program.
Meanwhile, Lacson said he will also participate actively in hearings on the proposed budget for 2018, once it is submitted to Congress.
Last year, Lacson discovered billions of pesos in pork-like insertions in the budget for 2017. This included some P8.3 billion in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget for projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
After Lacson exposed the P8.3-billion pork and stood his ground, senators agreed to realign the funds to free tuition for state colleges and universities.
“The budget call has already been terminated. And soon after the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24 when Congress resumes session … within 30 days he will have to submit the so-called President’s Budget. And I have been always active in participating in plenary debates, even in committee hearings,” he said.