DPWH grilled over purported 'pork barrel' in 2019 budget

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — Senator Panfilo Lacson was seeing more than ₱16 billion as potential pork barrel from the 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

During a deliberation on Monday, Lacson bared two suspended road projects which are potential sources of pork barrel from the agency's budget.

The projects include the Sariaya Bypass Road project in Quezon, which has a total allocation of ₱466.8 million supposed to be implemented from 2014 to 2016. But construction was stalled because of road right of way issues in the light of the DPWH's request for additional funding.

"Obviously this is pork because nandun mismo sa [it's in the] GAA when this was passed second legislative district. Nung [In] 2016, the DPWH requested for further appropriations only to suspend the project three months later March 2016," he said.

"Apparently, walang galaw ito and there's now a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) project toll road so baka naging irrelevant na ito, maging useless na itong Sariaya bypass road because pag na-construct yung toll road baka hindi na magamit ito, so ₱466.8 million gone to waste," he added.

[Translation: Apparently, there's no movement and there's now PPP project toll road. When it's constructed, the Sariaya bypass road may become irrelevant, useless, thus, ₱466.8 million has gone to waste.]

Lacson specifically cited the special provision on the right of way acquisition, which states that in the implementation of infrastructure projects, the DPWH shall ensure that all right of way expenses are settled before projects should commence.

"Nakumpleto yung segment nakongkreto ninyo pero hindi rin talaga magagamit because of right of way issues because you failed to settle first. Dapat ma-settle muna yung right of way issues," he said.

[You made the segment concrete but it won't be used because of right of way issues, because ou failed to settle first. Right of way issues should be settle first.]

Lacson also presented the Labey-Lacamen provincial road, a circumferential road project in Benguet.

According to the senator, the road project is suspended because it does not only address the issue of right of way, but also slope protection.

"Kung hindi mo na ginawa yung slope protection hindi inaddress, ginawa kaagad yung kalsada, anong mangyayari sa kalsada, magagamit ba natin yan [If you did not address the slope protection, how to use the road]?" he asked.

"Look, under construction itong kalsada and yet natabunan ng lupa walang slope protection kasi nauna na naman yung construction and this is current ha [Look, the road is under construction, yet covered by land, no slope protection because the construction was again done first, and this is current}," he added.

During the budget deliberation last year, Lacson raised that the ₱50 billion allocation for right of way of the DPWH's budget to be deleted because he suspected it was not going to be utilized.

"Ipapa-delete natin kasi nung isang taon ni-restore nila yun, eh karamihan pa naman dun sa mga yun mga insertion ng mga congressmen {Let's delete that because they restored it last year and mostly inserted by the congressmen]," he said.

Lacson warned he will move to have the right of way allocation from the department's budget next year because he sees a potential ₱16 billion pork in the budget of the DPWH.

"Naka lump na naman ito, nakalagay sa central office sa NCR. So ito na naman yung sinasabi ko na nakapark sa national office para ito ay pwedeng paghugutan ng proyekto ng mga mambabatas [It is lumped again in the central office in the National Capital Region. This is what I said that it's parked in the national office and can fund projects of lawmakers]," he said.