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Solon to scrutinize huge infra projects

SENATOR Panfilo Lacson will inquire about the issue of huge infrastructure projects reportedly worth P620 million up to P15 billion for each congressional district during the bicameral conference committee discussion of the P4.5 trillion national budget.

During the Senate’s deliberation on the proposed P659 billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Lacson revealed that the big chunk of the allocation went to congressional districts.

“Colleagues, all I can say is, pity yourselves, those of us who may have individual insertions, it will make you look like barangay kagawads compared to our House counterparts. You see, from a high of P15.351 billion to a low of P620 million,” said Lacson.

However, Lacson declined to name the concerned congressional representatives, saying it would be better that attention was drawn to districts rather than personalities.

But what is clear, according to him, the blame should not be put on DPWH regarding huge infrastructure projects.

It can be recalled that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Representative Eric Yap said that the DPWH should be the one to justify the infrastructure projects funded under the proposed 2021 national budget.

However, amidst the issue, Lacson is convinced that DPWH Secretary Mark Villar is not corrupt.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier defended Villar saying those in the lower offices in DPWH are the ones likely to be involved in corruption.

He added that the approved House version of the 2021 national budget can still be amended before it reaches second reading in the Senate, and once it reaches the bicameral conference meeting.

Earlier, Lacson charged that billions of pesos are being poured into selected districts like Davao City, Benguet, Albay and Abra while other districts are to receive smaller amounts of infrastructure funds.

He alleged that there was a huge difference in the distribution of the national budget in certain districts while other districts have to fend for themselves with less.

Lacson cited an urban district in Davao that has an infrastructure budget of around P15.351 billion while Albay has P7.5 billion, P7.9 billion in Benguet and P3.75 billion in Abra.

It was under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s leadership when the 2021 national budget was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading.

Velasco has yet to respond to Lacson’s allegation regarding the alleged unfair distribution of infrastructure funds in the 2021 national budget

In the recent speakership row, the same issue was raised against former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros by allies of now Speaker Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque led by Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves about the alleged unfair infrastructure allocation of funds.

They accused Cayetano of favoring certain lawmakers.