Drilon scores DPWH for ‘lump-sum riddled’ 2021 budget proposal

Published October 14, 2020, 6:15 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday scored the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) for having a lump sum-riddled proposed budget for next year, saying it most unusual that P345.25-billion in lump sum appropriations are lodged under the agency’s central office.

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is the first time that I see from the DPWH budget around P345-billion in lump sum appropriations. This is most unusual. This kind of budgeting does not augur well for our policy of transparency,” Drilon said during the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the agency’s budget Wednesday.

During the hearing, senators noted that the DPWH has a high allocation for local projects such as the nearly P70-billion funding for the creation of multi-purpose buildings and facilities.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for one, pointed out that the DPWH belatedly submitted a “mangled” proposed budget.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said that they subsequently submitted an attachment to the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to itemize the lump sum appropriation. According to Villar, the delayed submission was due to the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) giving them a budget ceiling on July 16 and a deadline the following day.

Drilon, however, questioned DPWH’s action, saying he cannot recall any instance in the past when a voluminous document is submitted and was tried to pass of as part of the constitutionally required expenditure program.

“In this case, the alleged 1,200-page addendum was belatedly submitted. While the Secretary of DWPH tried to explain the circumstances behind this, it does not change the fact that there is huge lump sum appropriation and that is never before seen in the history of the DPWH budget,” the minority leader stressed.

He noted that of the P345-billion lumpsum appropriation, P201.2-billion are for road program, P29.04-billion for bridge program, P65.38-billion for flood management program, and P49.63-billion for convergence and special support program.  The NEP, as submitted, did not provide for any breakdown, Drilon further pointed out.

He also said that under the P201.2-billion lumpsum amount, P16.23-billion is allotted for road widening of primary roads, P14.48-billion for secondary roads and P6-billion for tertiary roads.

“These are huge lump sum amounts. We do not know how to deal with this. This is a challenge for the committee and the Senate to be able to scrutinize these huge lump-sum items,” Drilon stressed.

The minority senator also questioned why a staggering P345.25-billion is lodged under the DPWH central office and not distributed among its regional units.

He added that this amount is equivalent to 52 percent of the total appropriation of the agency next year.

In a separate statement, Drilon reiterated that lumpsum appropriations are unconstitutional pursuant to the ruling of the Supreme Court.

He said the presence of “never-before-seen” lumpsum amounts in the budget speaks very poorly about the DPWH’s commitment to transparency in programming its projects and urged the Senate finance committee to do everything to disaggregate any lumpsum in the agency’s budget “in the spirit of transparency.”