The chamber made the realignment while convened as a committee of the whole. It amended the report of its committee on appropriations, which has adopted without changes the P3.757-trillion national budget for next year as proposed by President Duterte.
Michael Varcas
House realigns P52-billion ‘pork barrel’ in 2019 budget
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives yesterday realigned some P52 billion in so-called pork barrel funds inserted in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 2019.

The chamber made the realignment while convened as a committee of the whole. It amended the report of its committee on appropriations, which has adopted without changes the P3.757-trillion national budget for next year as proposed by President Duterte.

The realigned amount is almost equal to the P55 billion discovered by some House leaders as pork barrel funds “parked” by some influential administration officials and lawmakers in the DPWH outlay and spread among at least 40 congressional districts.

The realigned DPWH funds were taken from Metro Manila, which lost P205 million; Region 1, P1.232 billion; Cordillera Administrative Region, P4.1 billion; Region 2, P251 million; Region 3, P3.415 billion; Region 4-A, P4.425 billion; Region 4-B, P10.382 billion; Region 5, P9.198 billion; Region 6, P1.178 billion; Region 7, P575 million; Region 8, P4.810 billion; Region 10, P1.97 billion; Region 12, P78 million; and Region 13, P4.58 billion. Region 9 did not lose any allocation.

Some P31 billion was later returned to the DPWH for three programs: access roads to tourist destinations, P10 billion; access roads to trade industries, economic zones and livelihood centers, P10 billion; and roads to decongest traffic, P10.792 billion.

The remaining P21 billion was reallocated as additional money for the Department of Education, which received P3 billion more; Department of Agriculture, P5 billion; state colleges and universities, P1.2 billion; Department of Health, P3 billion for health workers and another P3 billion for health facilities; and P5 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., who was budget secretary when Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was president, was chosen chairman of the committee of the whole. He said the details of the realignments would be specific in the budget program.

He added the House version of the 2019 outlay largely supports the administration’s spending priorities.

Deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu welcomed the realignments.

“Under the leadership of our Speaker Arroyo, we must stay true to next year’s budget theme: building a bright future for the Philippines and its people. We must put the people above ourselves and our personal interests.”

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, a vice chairman of the appropriations committee, said he and his chairman, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, were supporting the Palace version of the 2019 budget.

“The committee report that was approved by the committee on appropriations is the budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management, which is the President’s budget, this administration’s budget. So that was the budget we approved. The basis for the committee report was based on that,” he said. It was not clear what would happen to Nograles.

Earlier yesterday, congressmen denied that there were billions in pork barrel funds in the P3.757-trillion national budget President Duterte had submitted to Congress.

“There is no single peso in the budget that could be considered pork in the sense the Supreme Court had defined pork barrel,” Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez told reporters yesterday.

He said under the November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court striking down the old Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional, a pork barrel appropriation is a lump sum whose details were supplied by lawmakers after the budget is enacted.

Lawmakers also intervened in the implementation of projects funded by such appropriation, he said. with Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS PORK BARREL
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