MANILA — Senator Francis Pangilinan on Friday slammed the decision of the Congress to defund infrastructure projects proposed by opposition lawmakers describing it as an “undisguised show of power.”
“This defunding is an undisguised show of power with a clear message: Gagawin namin dahil kaya namin. (We’re going to do it because we can do it),” Pangilinan said in a press statement.
Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), said that even if the House leadership justifies the purging of infrastructure projects of some lawmakers, it will clearly take its toll on the people.
“The defunded projects could be for housing or school buildings or flood control or access roads — projects that people of the concerned congressional districts would no longer enjoy because of disagreements among those in power. Projects paid for by people’s taxes and ensured by their votes,” he added.
He, however, said that if a purged budget is the price the opposition has to pay for standing up for democracy, they are prepared to take the consequences.
“It goes with the job. We will continue to fight for the rights and interest of the people,” Pangilinan said noting that democracy demands dissent and ensures space for the opposition.
“We were elected by our constituents because of our track record and competence, advocacy and the principles we stand for,” he added.
House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier confirmed that infrastructure projects proposed by opposition lawmakers were defunded and reallocated to other spending priorities under the PHP3.77 trillion 2018 national budget.
Alvarez said that PHP40 billion was transferred to the free college education program in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and PHP64.2 billion was given to increase in the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, for his part, said that Malacañang has nothing to do with the budget and that Congress has exclusive and primary jurisdiction in its preparation and approval.