Lacson seeks P9-B cuts in questionable appropriations under 2022 national budget

Published December 1, 2021, 1:10 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said bared his proposed amendments to the P5-trillion national budget for 2022, which includes slashing a total of over P9-billion questionable worth of appropriations.

In a statement, Lacson said he proposed reduction of funds for items such as farm-to-market roads and right-of-way payments to augment the government’s programs for education, internet connectivity, anti-cybercrime and defense for the coming year.

Among the proposed amendments he submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, includes a P1.97-billion decrease in the budget of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) farm-to-market roads.

According to Lacson, the implementation of the farm-to-market programs should be transferred to local government units (LGUs) as stipulated under the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling and Executive Order No. 138.

Lacson also proposed to reduce the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) budget for the National Greening Program by P2-billion due to adverse Commission on Audit (COA) performance audit in 2019.

Lacson also proposed to reduce the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget by P1-billion from P3.01-billion in Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for the routine maintenance of national roads; P200-million deduction for the routine maintenance of public buildings; P500-million deduction for flood control and drainage systems; P1.36-billion deduction for prelimineary engineering or detailed engineering of various DPWH projects; P300-million deduction for feasibility study including business case study for potential private-public partnership projects, among others.

On the other hand, Lacson, who is running for president in the May 2022 elections, proposed to inject some P300-million to improve the facilities in Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, which he visited last Nov. 20.

He also proposed an increase for the “connectivity” load for teachers and Department of Education (DepEd) personnel to deliver online lessons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To pursue the meaningful benefits of ‘connectivity load’ with significant savings for the government, an increase in the appropriations for the connectivity load for one milion DepEd personnel is hereby proposed. To this end, increase the appropriaions of the MOOE of DepEd by P1-billion or from P2.30-billion to P3.30-billion,” he said.

Likewise, he introduced a special provision allowing LGUs to directly contract the services of transport cooperatives–empowering LGUs to co-implement, collect fares and co-finance service contracting.

“This would lighten the load of the Department of Transportation and speed up the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program as the transport sectors may be properly be represented by their respective LGUs,”

“This would also ensure that the drivers are given fair wage and humane working conditions,” he said.