Kickbacks or commissions have become an open secret in the implementation of billions of pesos worth of public works projects involving not only corrupt Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials but some lawmakers as well.
This was revealed today by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson after “dissecting” the P666.4-billion 2021 DPWH budget during a Senate public hearing Wednesday where more than P400 billion are lump sum appropriations and unused appropriations in the 2020 budget but re-appropriated in the proposed 2021 DPWH budget.
Lump sum appropriations are most often tagged as ‘’pork barrel’’ funds.
Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon had forecast that the forthcoming Senate-House of Representatives bicameral conference committee on the proposed 2021 P4.5-trillion national budget would be ‘’bloody’’ which could prolong the meeting or delay the passage by Congress of the budget by the end of the year.
Senators had vowed to delist these pork barrel appropriations unless there are substantial adjustments in the DPWH budget.
Lacson said it is timely that President Duterte has raised the corruption issue involving the much-abused budget under the DPWH ‘’coming as it did at a time when we had just deliberated on the proposed 2021 budget of the department.’’
He said he ‘’unwittingly’’ provided the sordid details of such misuse and abuse of the DPWH funds at the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the DPWH’s proposed budget earlier Thursday.
During the hearing, Lacson said he relied on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) and the “mangled” or “mutilated” version of the DPWH’s late submission.
‘’The mangled version alone – which contained a pattern of decreased budgets for national projects and increased budgets for local projects – is highly questionable considering that such submission should have only detailed the lump sums in the NEP that Malacanang submitted to Congress last Aug. 25, but not to amend what was originally submitted, which is the exclusive function of the Congress as part of the budget process, thus, preparation, authorization, execution, and accountability,’’ he said.
Lacson said it has become an open secret that commissions or kickbacks have become the rule rather than the exception in the implementation of public works projects involving not only some corrupt officials of the department but some legislators as well.
‘’Fact is, contractors openly talk behind the backs of these officials, changing the definition of “mabait” (kind) and “maginoo” (gentleman) in the process: Officials from the Executive and Legislative branches who ask for “only” 10 percent are ‘mabait, maginoong kausap’ and those who demand 20 to 30 percent are ‘matakaw’ (greedy) while those who demand advance payments and renege on their word as ‘balasubas’ and ‘mandurugas’,’’ he added.
‘’That being said, if no substantial adjustments are made once the final version of the 2021 GAB is transmitted to the Senate, hopefully next week as promised by the new Speaker, I intend to propose during our plenary debates to cut or realign the excessive and unjustified ‘NEP amendments’ that the DPWH illegally made.”