By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson is not blaming the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the existence of overlapping infrastructure projects in the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget.
‘’I’m not blaming at all DPWH because there are some submissions beyond their control,’’ Lacson told Senate reporters on the existence of projects that were not submitted by some House of Representatives members to the DPWH but were submitted to the House of Representatives long after the President has completed the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
After it has been approved by the Lower House, the NEP becomes the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
What Lacson has been telling congressmen or senators is that their projects should be recommended by the local government units (LGUs) and later to regional development councils (RDCs) and thence to implementing agencies to avoid being deleted in the GAB or being derisively marked as ‘’pork barrel.’’
He cited as example the vague description of a P507-million Kennon Road project that has no specifics such as its specific length from the starting kilometer post to the ending kilometer post.
During the debate on the DPWH budget being defended by Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, Angara said he was assured by DPWH Secretary Mark Villar to send errata on this and other questioned infrastructure projects in the DPWH project.
Queried on his overall impression on the helter-skelter preparation of the DPWH budget, Lacson replied that it is poor project planning whose non-implementation or failure to finish them on time that leads to unused appropriations affecting the economy.
He said there is a disconnect between needs and priorities of LGUs and national budget which in itself is not responsive.
On the opportunity for corruption as a result of collusion between lawmakers and contractors, Lacson said that ‘’corruption will always be there as long as there are corrupt people in government, corruption will stay.’’
To stay away from criticisms of some lawmakers on his finding fault in the budgets, Lacson said he tries to be blind but is sticking to issues not minding who is the specific lawmaker who would be hurt.
‘’And I am tired of quarreling with them, it consumes a lot of my energy,’’ he pointed out.