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Lacson: P14-B fund for ‘vague’ projects can be realigned to important programs

Sen. Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER.NET PHOTO/CATHY MIRANDA

Sen. Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER.net file photo / CATHY MIRANDA

MANILA, Philippines — At least P14 billion in funding for “vague” infrastructure projects in the proposed 2020 national budget can be realigned to more important programs under three landmark laws of the Duterte administration.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said this after he pointed out that three laws signed under the current administration are “underfunded” namely the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education and the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act.

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“Nanghihinayang ako. May tatlong napakalaking landmark laws na naipasa under the Duterte administration. UHC, free tuition sa colleges at national ID. Pero lahat kapos,” he said in an interview with dzMM on Wednesday.

(It’s such a waste. We have three landmark laws under the Duterte administration. UHC, free tuition for colleges and national ID. But all of them are underfunded).

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“Pwede kunan sa iba tulad ng mga duplicative na mga items sa GAB [General Appropriations Bill]. Ang nagdodoble-doble, infrastructure project na nakalagak sa DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways].

(We can get funding from duplicative items in the GAB. Duplicative projects under the DPWH).

During his interpellation last week on the budget of the DPWH, Lacson scrutinized the agency’s budget supposedly riddled with typographical errors and questionable allocations.

“Pag kinwenta namin lahat yan, although sabi ng DPWH magsa-submit sila ng errata kasi medyo na-expose ito noon napakaraming vague na described, hindi maliwanag, pero pagaralan pa rin kung talagang pwede pa ma-implement kasi sa ngayon napakababa ng disbursement ng DPWH,” he said.

(If we compute everything, although the DPWH said they would submit an errata because it was exposed during the deliberation that there are many projects with vague description but we will study if these could still be implemented because right now the disbursement rate of the DPWH is very low).

“Hindi nagagamit ang pondo kasi walang masyadong consultation. Ito ang sinisingit ng legislator na walang consultation sa ahensya so hindi naimplement nang maayos,” Lacson added.

(The funds are not being utilized because there’s no consultation. These are inserted by legislators without consultation with the agency so the projects are not implemented properly).

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“Siguro nasa mahigit P14 billion yan. So maraming pwedeng pagkunan kung gusto natin matugunan,” Lacson further said.

(It may amount to P14 billion. So there could be a lot of source for funding to fill the gap).

At the beginning of the plenary deliberation of the proposed national budget, Lacson also suggested the realignment of P5-billion earmarked for the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the implementation of the national ID system.

Edited by JPV

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