MANILA — The proposed PHP50-billion cut in the 2018 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions was met with dissent from members of both Houses of Congress.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has pushed for the PHP50.7-billion cut in the DPWH budget due to unresolved ROW issues, which he said, was the “main culprit” for the huge underspending of the agency.
“Hindi mo pa nga na-settle yung dadaanan ng kalsada papano ka magtatayo ng kalsada? That accounts for the huge unused appropriations. Ang lalaki ng underspending,” Lacson told reporters on Thursday in an ambush interview following the bicameral conference on the proposed 2018 national budget.
“Ang main culprit dun yung mga unresolved ROWs na pinondohan na kaagad ng civil works and yet hindi pa nare-resolve yung issue ng right-of-way,” he added.
Lacson said representatives from the DPWH will be invited on Monday to update the lawmakers on the status of unresolved ROW issues and defend their budget from the impending cuts.
Lacson admitted that several congressmen and senators have aired their complaints against the proposed budget cut.
In a separate interview, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, expressed alarm over the DPWH budget cut as it may adversely impact the administration’s massive infrastructure program, “Build Build Build.”
“Nabigla na lang kami na ganito kalaki ang ginalaw nila.This is part of the ‘Build Build Build’ program ng Pangulo. So pag pinutol nila yung ‘Build Build Build’ program ng Presidente ibig sabihin ba nito is hindi sila sang-ayon at supportive sa ‘Build Build Build’ program ng Presidente?,” Nograles said.
Nograles added that the road projects are identified by the DPWH, and not by the congressmen.
“Walang projects ang congressmen. Projects ito ng DPWH na makakabenipisyo dito ang iba’t ibang lalawigan, probinsya, syudad, munisipyo doon sa iba’t ibang lugar ng ating bansa,” he said.
Senator Cynthia Villar, for her part, questioned the proposed funding cuts, saying that “if there’s no problem, why not continue the project?”