“2021 national budget: I am determined to amend and realign around P20B for the rehab and reconstruction of LGU’s hard hit by recent calamities to be sourced from the P68B allocations for those corrupt-ridden, skeleton multi-purpose building projects that I exposed last week.” – Sen. Ping Lacson on Twitter, Nov. 16, 2020
Realigning P20B from ‘Skeleton Projects’ to Rehab, Reconstruction of Typhoon-Hit Areas:
At the Senate deliberations on the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, Sen. Lacson proposed the realignment of at least P20 billion from the “skeleton projects” for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas hit hard by recent cyclones, as he pointed out the National Expenditure Program was prepared before the onslaught of cyclones including Rolly, Quinta and Ulysses. “Since the NEP was prepared before the onslaught of Typhoons Rolly, Quinta, and Ulysses, wouldn’t it be wise and practical to make adjustments by augmenting the ALGU-LGSF appropriations especially for those areas hardest hit by the calamities mentioned?”
Sen. Lacson pointed out that local multi-purpose buildings (MPBs), which have a proposed appropriation of P68B for 2021, “are merely duplications of programs already covered by a special provision in relation to the ALGU-LGSF, not to mention those projects being convenient sources of corruption as I already pointed out.”
“More than increasing the NDRRMF and the QRF, since we have no idea how many typhoons will hit the country next year, I think it would be a better idea if we augment the ALGU-LGSF to help those LGUs recover and rehabilitate from the damages they suffered in terms of infrastructure and even livelihood,” Sen. Lacson said. Senate finance committee chairman Juan Edgardo Angara replied they “are open to that, given the very serious situation on the ground.”
On the other hand, Sen. Lacson said it would be “more practical” to just augment the funding of LGUs for that purpose, instead of lodging the funds for MPBs under the DPWH. “In that way if we augment the appropriations for LGUs especially those hit by the typhoons, they could very well rehabilitate and recover making use of local manpower. And it could spur their local economy by increasing labor and services, including infrastructure materials.”
“At the proper time I’d like to propose an amendment to realign a big portion of the P68B to ALGU-LGSF, of course with the proper menu to be submitted by the DILG through the DBM. As you stated earlier, we cannot also allow lump sum appropriations even under the SPF,” Sen. Lacson said.
Proposed Special Provision:
Sen. Lacson said a proposed special provision has been drafted, adding a third item – Disaster Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Assistance Program for LGUs – to the ALGU-LGSF item in the budget on top of the Financial Assistance to LGUs and NTF-ELCAC.
“At the proper time I am going to introduce that amendment instead of wasting billions of pesos in unfinished MPBs which I showed last week, some of which were already funded by LGUs and yet still being appropriated sums of money from the GAA,” he said. For his part, Sen. Angara said they are “open to the gentleman’s amendments.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Lacson said they will get input from the DPWH regarding those useless MPBs, adding they expect the DILG to submit through the DBM a list of affected families per province.
He added the provision will only be good for next year. “This will only be good for next year, depending on the number of devastating typhoons that might hit again the country next year. But in any case, this would not be a recurring item in the appropriations.”
On the other hand, he said the other portion of the P68B could still be realigned for other programs “such as the national broadband program of DICT and other items our colleagues may want to augment.”
“I am quite sure (DPWH Sec. Mark Villar) will be amenable to realigning, sakit ng ulo niya yan,” Sen. Lacson noted.