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Veto of ‘dubious items’ in 2021 budget sought

Panfilo Lacson
Panfilo Lacson

SENATOR Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson on Friday stressed that dubious items in the Department of Public Works and Highways‘ budget for 2021 — including double and overlapping appropriations — could be a starting point for Malacañang in reviewing the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill.

Lacson, who bared and questioned such irregularities in the DPWH’s budget in committee hearings all the way to the plenary, said he is willing to help in the review by pointing out items for potential veto.

“It is clear that questionable items such as double and overlapping appropriations should be vetoed, along with at least 793 line items for multi-purpose buildings with a uniform P1 million appropriation each,” he said.

During his interpellation of the bicameral conference committee report of the 2021 budget, Lacson questioned the P28.348-billion increase in the DPWH’s budget despite — he charged — its track record of underspending and questionable, wasteful projects.

Before this, Lacson recommended a reduction of P60 billion from the DPWH’s proposed budget for 2021, including for multi-purpose buildings except those to be used as evacuation and quarantine facilities, as well as double appropriations, right-of-way payments and also overlapping projects.

Meanwhile, Lacson said he is considering his options on how to help in the review of the budget bill by giving his inputs in his capacity as a senator.

Lacson cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s vetoing of some P95 billion in items in the 2019 budget, after senators including Lacson raised concerns over the abuse and indiscretions by some legislators whom he accused of inserting pork into the spending bill.

“This is with the aim of helping those involved in the review at least take a closer look at projects that should be scrutinized and even vetoed. In turn, this will make sure not a single centavo in the 2021 budget will go to wasteful projects,” he added.

No to budget

THE 2021 national budget boosts the funds for pork barrel and for 2022 elections.

This is what the Makabayan bloc said of the approved general appropriations measure,.

The Makabayan bloc, composed of solons representing Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT Teachers party-lists, expressed strong opposition to the 2021 national budget because they claimed big chunks will be used to eliminate those critical to the government and for the next elections in 2022.

“We in the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives raise our strong objection to the approved 2021 national budget bill at the bicameral level, as it boosts the funds for pork barrel, election war chest and political repression of dissenters and ordinary citizens while still scrimping on health, education and social services even at the height of pandemic and economic crisis that we are in right now,” the Makabayan said in a statement.

They claimed that this bicameral-approved version of Duterte’s 2021 budget ensures that more public funds will be funneled to corruption-prone projects and to programs that desperately seek to stifle the opposition in view of the upcoming 2022 elections.

The militant solons expressed disappointment over the measly budget increase for the important agencies like health and education. With Jester P. Manalastas