Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday, October 14, raised questions on the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) P67-billion allocation for the construction of multi-purpose buildings next year, noting that the government should prioritize projects that would help the country recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.
“Hindi ko makita how it would contribute to ‘reset, rebound and recover,'” he said, citing the government’s ‘theme’ for the 2021 budget.
[I cannot see how it would contribute to “reset, rebound and recover.”]
The DPWH is asking for a P667.32-billion budget in 2021, one of the biggest among executive departments, as the government seeks to resume its massive infrastructure program to generate jobs during the global pandemic.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said that the agency’s allocations and actions were “based on the analysis of operations.”
“We received many requests from various sectors for these buildings,” Villar said.
“There is a need to service them somehow so we do take it into account… We wanted to do pump priming in the countryside in communities that are hard to reach,” he said.
Lacson also questioned why local projects received a P52.84-billion increase, while funds for national roads and bridges were cut by more than P11 billion.
“In general, ang nakita naming lumobo ay ‘yung mga local projects at ‘yung malalaking nabawas is ‘yung national projects,” he said.
[In general, what we see is that funds for local projects ballooned while there are major cuts for national projects.]
The senator suggested to the DPWH that some projects – such as the construction or repair of school buildings – should be removed from his agency’s budget since it is already included in the funding of other departments.
“Para ‘di na lumobo budget ninyo, ilagay na lang sa DepEd ang naka-lodge sa DPWH, kayo rin naman mag-implement,” Lacson said.
[So your budget won’t balloon, let’s put in DepEd what is lodged in the DPWH, you’re the ones who will implement anyway.]
“It becomes confusing there’s a budget lodged with DPWH and another item, the same program na nasa DepEd naman (already with DepEd),” he said.
Villar agreed with Lacson’s “very sensible proposal.”