House Speaker Gloria Arroyo
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – House Speaker Gloria Arroyo vehemently denied allegations that she gets the biggest chunk of the proposed 2019 National Budget.
Reports said Arroyo’s second district of Pampanga has given the biggest budget allocation of P2.4-B for next year.
“The two allegations that I wanted to check is that (they say) I cornered it? No! The second allegation is (because) they were my allies? No! The previous leadership of the house have bigger, multiple of the budget of my district,” the House Speaker defended.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya came in support of Arroyo saying of all the congressmen, Arroyo places 60th among solons with highest budget allocation. Andaya comes 110th.
Instead, Arroyo and Andaya point at the former House speaker as the recipient of the highest amount of fund.
“As approved by 3rd reading, the number recipient would still be former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s district with around P5 -billion; former Majority Leader Fariñas with P3.5-billion and the former chairman of the Committee on Appropriations Carlo Nograles with P4-billion,” Andaya said.
But Rep. Rudy Fariñas explained that he knew nothing about the budget allocation for his district since he joined the minority right after President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent state of the nation address (SONA).
“I don’t know the allocation for my district but everything listed therein was in the NEP submitted by the President. I left the Majority two days after the SONA when I joined the Minority, and there is no way I could have added anything to it,” he said.
“I did not attend any budget hearing since then as I was on medical leave starting Sep. 15 when I suffered injuries from Typhoon Ompong,” he argued.
Nevertheless, Fariñas said, it is not surprising if he gets a big amount of fund considering that his district maintains the longest national highway in the country.
“But I will not be surprised if the amount is accurate since my district has one of the longest national highways in the country from Laoag to the boundary of Cagayan province. The bridge alone for the Laoag-Bacarra bypass road is about P1B (multi-year allocations),” Fariñas explained.
Andaya said he already wrote to the President to explain matters regarding the issues surrounding the 2019 proposed national budget and to show to the President the actual budget allocation for each of the congressmen.
Andaya noted, however, that they are still solving the problem as to who approved the P51-billion pesos infrastructure ‘parked fund’ that was inserted for the districts of Sorsogon and Catanduanes.
But even the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the representatives of the two districts cannot explain how the said amount was inserted in their budget allocation.
“Yesterday we had a meeting with Usec Cabral, the Head of Planning mismo ng DPWH. Siya ang nagpa plano kung ano ang ilalagay sa budget. She still at this point in time and the official stand of the secretary they do not know anything about the P51B,” Andaya said.
Andaya said it is only the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) under Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno can explain everything about this as they are the ones who prepare the proposed national budget.
Meanwhile, Alvarez and Nograles are yet to respond on the matter. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)