Villar steers clear of P75-billion insertion issue in 2019 budget  

Published December 18, 2018, 5:32 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Betheena Unite

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has chosen to keep mum on the P75-billion “insertion” in the proposed 2019 national budget which recently came under fire in Congress.

Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (Alberto Garcia/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (Alberto Garcia/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Villar opted to leave the issue to the House as he did not want to comment further on the arising controversy when sought for a statement Tuesday.

“I don’t want to comment on something I don’t know, maybe they have some disagreements about the budget. But the budget (hearing) is ongoing. The congress has the power of the purse,” Villar said.

Recently, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. grilled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for allegedly stage-managing the insertion of P75-billion public works projects in the proposed budget.
Villar, however, admitted that he was aware of the P75-billion “insertion” saying, “the budget is a public document, so we are aware.”

He added that it was also a part of the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

“At this point the budget process is still ongoing. It’s all part of the budgetary process. There is nothing that is not part of the budgetary. Ultimately, Congress will pass the budget, while we could only recommend, we have no power over it.”

The secretary also bared that he has written a letter expressing support for Diokno.
He furthered that they “will wait for the update from Congress and will wait to hear what Congress decides to do.”

“The House deliberations are on going, the House budget its still on going. Actually pag balik ng January, meron na kami plenary session sa Senate   (when we get back on January, we will attend a plenary session in Senate),” Villar said.