DOF denies ‘deplorable misuse' of public funds

Published September 28, 2021, 6:02 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III clarified that the renovation of the former headquarters of the Land Bank of the Philippines in Makati is part of the infrastructure works being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) since 2019.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (Presidential Photo)

“The structure, located along Sen Gil J. Puyat Avenue will be transformed into a ‘green’ building to house the organic personnel of the Office of the President (OP). Building works started almost two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit not only the Philippines,” he said.

Dominguez, who is also Land Bank chairman, pointed out that official documents show that the renovation project in the building has nothing to do with the banking institution and its functions.

“The project was already included in the budget of the DPWH under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA); this means that it was planned in 2018 or earlier,” Dominguez explained.

To recall, Land Bank moved to its present main office in Manila 20 years ago after it transferred the ownership of its previous headquarters in Makati City to the national government in 2011.

Dominguez issued the statement to disprove claims made by former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares during a recent House committee meeting.

Colmenares had claimed that the renovation project on the former Land Bank building that was included by the Department of Finance (DOF) in the proposed 2022 national budget was a “deplorable misuse of public funds” amid a pandemic-induced crisis.

“Mr. Colmenares is, as usual, totally wrong. The budget for the project was requested by Malacañang long before the pandemic, and has nothing to do with Land Bank,” Dominguez said.

Documents showed that the OP and the DPWH have been in communication regarding the Land Bank “structural retrofitting” project since October 2019.

DOF said “this was already included in the DPWH budget for that fiscal year under its Regular Agency Fund, Continuing Appropriations, Republic Act 11260, FY 2019 General Appropriations Act, Contingent Fund.”

The special allotment release order for the project was released by the Department of Budget and Management in July 2020.