Removal of P75-B in DPWH budget won’t affect infra projects

MANILA There are many ways to push through with the administration's infrastructure projects, even after the Senate removed the PHP75-billion in additional funding allegedly "inserted" into the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), MalacaAang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Palace is not worried that infrastructure projects would be hampered since there are other ways to seek for additional funding.

I don't think so, Panelo said when asked during a Palace briefing if the Palace is concerned about lacking funds to continue infrastructure projects following the Senate's decision to delete the PHP75-billion from DPWH's budget.

There are many ways (to seek additional funding). The Executive is very creative as well as Congress. Tingnan natin (Let's see), he added.

On Monday, the Senate agreed to remove the PHP75-billion after Public Works Secretary Mark Villar reportedly admitted he was not informed about the alleged insertions made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Panelo pointed out that one of the options was to ask Congress for a supplemental budget used exclusively for infrastructure projects.

Kung kulang, puwede naman magdagdag ng appropriation di ba? May supplemental budget, puwede naman yun e (So if it is lacking, we can ask for additional appropriation, right? There's a supplemental budget, we can use that). Basta for the good of the country, dapat every branch of the government must cooperate, Panelo said.

Panelo further said that it was the job of Congress to go over the budget proposal and amend it as necessary.

He also refused to call the PHP75 billion additional funding for the DPWH as insertion, noting that it was the job of the Executive Department to make budget proposals.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said increases in the DPWH budget were "aboveboard" and part of the budget process.

Number one, the assumption is wrong. The Executive did not insert. Trabaho nga nila magbigay ng (It's their job to give) budget proposal. Number two, that's the job of Congress to amend. Kung ginawa nila 'yun, (if they did that) then they're doing their job, Panelo said.

'Misquoted'

Panelo, meanwhile, rejected Villar's statement that he had no knowledge that insertions were made into the budget of his own department, suggesting that the Cabinet Secretary might have been misquoted.

Baka naman (Perhaps) he was misquoted. It cannot be that he had no prior knowledge kasi (because) that was discussed in the Cabinet. That was a proposal, all of us were present and all of us consented to that, Panelo said.

He explained that since every budget is to be presented to the Cabinet and has to be approved by the President, Villar should have been aware about the additional funding.

Hindi lang (He was not only) informed, he was present in the Cabinet unless he went out to make a pee, Panelo said.

Last year, the Duterte administration's PHP3.8 trillion proposed budget for 2019 was refused to be passed by Congress before yearend following pork barrel allegations.

Panelo, however, expressed confidence that the proposed 2019 budget will finally be passed within the first quarter of the year.

Sa tingnin ko ma-approve 'yun. 'Yun yung naririnig ko sa members of Congress (I think it will be approved. That's what I heard from members of the Congress). The statement of (Senate President Vicente) Sotto and even Speaker Gloria Arroyo said they are working on it and they will do their job, Panelo said.

He said he expects the tiff between Congress and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to die down once the proposed 2019 budget is approved.

Yung conflict nila (The conflict) arose out of the items in the budget, e kung in-approve na nila yun anong conflict pa ang pag-uusapan (but if they approve the budget, what conflict is there to talk about). If you approve the budget, di wala nang conflict (there's no more conflict), he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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