It is basic that once an infra project has started its implementation, it is already obligated. Hence, there can be no partial cash allocation, unless that project is discontinued, cancelled, or terminated. Then, the unused portion of the appropriation becomes savings that may be realigned. Or, if the project is covered by Multi Year Contractual Authority (MYCA), formerly known as MYOA or Multi Year Obligational Authority which is clearly spelled out and provided in the 2020 GAA, the same item can reappear in the succeeding budget year.
We were not born yesterday as far as budgeting is concerned.
In our continuing efforts to scrutinize the 2021 National Expenditure Program, particularly on the issue of “re-appropriations” and “lump sum appropriations” involving infrastructure projects under the DPWH, we have found that the initial amount of P73.5 billion covering 2,933 items has now ballooned to P135.8 billion involving 5,913 projects – thus effectively increasing the total questionable appropriations to P532.3 billion from the initial P469 billion that we exposed earlier, including lump sums in the amount of P396.4 billion.
Considering the projects under “Operations” in the proposed budget of the DPWH has total appropriations of P613.1 billion, easily 87 percent or P532.3 billion is deemed questionable.
Having said all that, a legal question needs to be addressed as we progress in our plenary budget deliberations: Will this kind of “errata” be allowed by the Senate, or Congress for that matter, if the items to be rectified do not involve simple typographical errors or other similar minor errors like interchanged or misplaced items in the NEP?
Therefore, if my colleagues will not allow such major rectification, we may see a 2021 GAA that is reduced by more than half a trillion pesos.
I abhor violations of the legislative process, and have called out members of Congress for such acts – such as when they inserted their pork barrel in the National Budget bill after its approval on third and final reading or ratification of the bicameral conference committee report, and before the bill was enrolled.
Why, then, would I make such a stealthy insertion to the Anti-Terrorism Bill as Robles implies?
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* possible supplemental budget to deal with COVID-19 [0:26]
* at least P989B unused from 2019 budget [2:40]
* local officials naipit sa Social Amelioration Program [17:39]
* DBM circular barring release of 35% of 2020 budget’s appropriations [19:45]
* lockdown until June? [24:17]
Nagkaroon ng “hatchet job” laban kay Senador Panfilo Lacson matapos niyang isiwalat ang pagkakaharang ng Malacañang sa tinatayang P80 bilyong realignment sa 2020 national budget.
Nakarating sa senador ang paglutang ng pekeng impormasyon na ini-sponsor niya ang isang proyektong kalsada sa Tarlac City sa kabila ng patakaran nito na huwag magpatupad ng proyekto gamit ang pork barrel.
“First, I don’t realign appropriations for road projects, much less local roads since it smacks of a pork barrel allocation. Also, the realignments I propose in the national budget are institutional – meaning, they have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from the implementing agencies concerned,” mariing paliwanag ni Lacson.
Ang nabanggit na pahayag ay ginawa ni Lacson bilang pagpapasinungaling sa lumabas na impormasyon na siya ang nag-sponsor sa P25-milyong road concreting project sa Barangay San Rafael, Tarlac City.
Unmitigated gall. This best describes some lawmakers who realigned at least P80 billion from the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” flagship program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the 2020 national budget.
This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies.
Such “allies” have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him, but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else. The President should always be wary of these so-called allies.