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.
At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson raised questions on the following issues:
* Ability of DPWH, DoTr to accomplish infrastructure programs to rebound from pandemic
* P396B in lump sums in the DPWH’s budget – lodged in the central office
* Re-appropriations involving 2,933 items worth P73.5B in the proposed budget
* P30B not yet allocated for COVID-19 response
In interviews on DZRH and DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– need for strong political will by PRRD to veto pork
– continued blatant violations of the SC ruling vs pork in 2020 budget
– moves to counter pork and other ‘insertions’
– investigation of issues on the 2019 SEA Games organizers
One reason why I did not attend the signing of the bicam report: Last night after our session, my office received from the House of Representatives through the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) one USB drive containing two files, the “Source” File and the “List” File.
Our preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345Bthat were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning.