Government allots P63 billion for right-of-way payments
House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur said this amount has been allocated in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
Government allots P63 billion for right-of-way payments
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure program will get a total of P63 billion next year for right-of-way (ROW) payments, which have stalled the construction of roads and bridges and railways nationwide. 

House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur said this amount has been allocated in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020. 

“This is crucially important, considering that the allocations for ROW spending appear as lump sums in the budget,” he said.

The figure was broken down to P44 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), while the remaining P19 billion was given to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

“To foster greater transparency, we are renewing our call for both departments to post on their respective websites the list of payees, the amounts paid and the properties acquired to pave the way for infrastructure projects,” Pimentel said.

In the case of the DPWH, Pimentel said the ROW payments are meant for the construction of new roads, flyovers, bridges and other infrastructure.

For the DOTr, Pimentel said the ROW expenses are meant for new aviation, railway and maritime infrastructure projects.

These are the Kalibo International Airport, Roxas Airport in Capiz, Dumaguete Airport in Negros Oriental, Calbayog Airport in Samar, Ipil Airport in Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga International Airport, Mati Airport in Davao Oriental and M’lang Airport in North Cotabato.

Railways and ports include the Metro Manila Subway Phase I, North-South Commuter Railway, South Long-Haul Railway, Cebu International Container Port and the Mindanao Railway.

ROW expenses are authorized by Republic Act 10752, which says the national government may acquire real property needed as a ROW site or location for any infrastructure project via donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisition, as provided by law.

Both the DOTr and the DPWH are required to settle all ROW obligations before the start of projects.

This developed as Sen. Richard Gordon has been urging the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to conduct lifestyle checks on DPWH officials suspected of complicity in a multibillion-peso ROW payment scam.

The DPWH lost up to P8.7 billion from the rip-off that involved fraudulent claims for ROW payments backed by bogus land titles, according to Gordon, chairperson of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

Officials and staff at the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Budget and Management and the Land Registration Authority have been implicated in the scam, Gordon said.

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