Victims of calamities may have been sacrificed at the altar of politics with the restoration of more than P8 billion in “pork” to the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways in 2017, Sen. Panfilo Lacson lamented Wednesday.
Lacson said the DPWH now has a budget of P454.721 billion under the General Appropriations Act, an increase of P9.054 billion from the P445.766 billion in the National Expenditure Program.
But he noted the addition to the DPWH budget came from the huge cuts suffered by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) or Calamity Fund under the Special Purpose Fund, whose budget was reduced by P21.5 billion, from P37.255 billion to just P15.755 billion.
“What is sad here is the thought of sacrificing the victims of calamities for political favors and alliances. The details of the DPWH budget and other agencies are not yet out. Once we get hold of the budget books, we will diligently scrutinize. I and my team will continue to be the watchdog to guard against abuses in the use of public funds,” he said.
“I am quite sure that these realignments are all about pork,” he added. “… I tell you – it is tiring and frustrating and not a few times, I have paused and felt resigned, simply step aside or abandon this advocacy. It is a lonely crusade, to say the least.”
Lacson added that with massive devastations brought by recent calamities including typhoons Pablo, Yolanda, Karen, Lawin and Nina, “most of the victims might be left to fend for themselves instead of getting sufficient assistance from the government.”
In the case of Yolanda, which devastated the Visayas and parts of Luzon in 2013, Lacson said at least P100 billion is needed for those affected to fully recover.
“What I’m trying to say is, Filipinos are made to believe that PDAF is dead after the SC ruling in 2013. I am not stupid. Filipinos are not stupid. They are just resigned, I think. After all these years that I and my staff scrutinize the budget books year in and year out, I know pork when I see it,” he said.
“I believe our people, especially our taxpayers, should know the real score behind all these pretenses and denials about the existence of pork,” he added. [source]
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