Flood control projects get P20-billion budget slash in 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — A new budget system is cutting P20 billion out of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) flood control projects.

From P122.7 billion this year, funding for infrastructure like mitigation structures and drainage systems will go down to P102 billion — a decrease of almost 17 percent.

This is because the Department of Budget and Management's (DBM) new cash-based budgeting system only allows funding for projects that can be initiated and completed within the year.

It replaces the old multi-year obligation-based budgeting system, which allows funding to be valid for up to two years.

House Committee on Appropriations Chair Karlo Nograles said many departments felt the cut.

"Tila naging biktima ang Pilipino ng sinasabi na 'dagdag bawas.' Nagdagdag ng buwis, nagbawas ng benepisyo," he said.

[Translation: A lot of Filipinos are victims to 'dagdag (add) bawas (subtract).' They added taxes, but subtracted benefits.]

The Department of Health was not given funding for the construction of new health facilities.

The Department of Education's budget for the construction of new classrooms was cut by almost P70 billion.

The Commission on Higher Education's scholarship program was also reduced by P3 billion.

Because of these cuts, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Karlo Nograles said his committee suspended all budget deliberations until the Budget Department reverts to an obligation-based budget system — and restores funding for many infrastructure projects.

"The (Development Budget Coordination Committee and) the DBM can come back to Congress and amend what they submitted," said Nograles.

RELATED: New system may delay 2019 budget approval - House appropriations chief

However, Malacanang said it is shocked and alarmed by the House's decision. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Budget Secretary Ben Diokno and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez are not daunted by the possibility of a re-enacted budget.

A re-enacted budget means the budget for the previous year, in amount and allocations, will be the same as the coming year.

"Congressmen better ask themselves, what will happen to their pet projects because under a re-enacted budget, it is Malacanang that will determine which budgets will be implemented," said Roque. "I don't think they want that."

House Majority Leader Nonoy Andaya assured the public that this is not the case. He said even Cabinet secretaries were at a loss regarding the cuts, and they wanted to give the Budget Department time to explain how it plans to implement the new scheme.

"I think it's about time na tumigil muna kami sa paghear ng [that we stop hearings about the] budget and make sense of it," said Andaya. "When we ask questions, the usual answer is DBM made the cut. They do not know how to answer the question."

The last time a budget was re-enacted was during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — who is now the House Speaker.