InterAksyon - Marcos bucks DILG P13-B lump sum funds for water, housing programs without mandate

In The News
25 November 2014

By Ernie Reyes |

InterAksyon_featured_imageMANILA, Philippines – Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., on Monday night assailed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for funding the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in support of water supply projects and housing programs without mandate from law.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Marcos termed the nearly P13-billion errata allotment for water supply and low-cost housing to DILG as "lump sums" and has asked the DBM why it allowed this to be included in the 2015 National budget.

He likewise asked the DILG to explain where it spent the billions of pesos given to it for low-cost housing projects in 2014.

"Under the local government code, the DILG is supposed to supervise local government units and not build houses or manage low-cost housing projects for informal settlers," Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said.

The senator from Ilocos Norte took the floor in questioning the P12.9 billion "errata" allocation that came from seven fund sources under a 270-page errata provision in the proposed national budget.

Marcos insisted that the DILG is not empowered by law to build housing units, a mandate given to the National Housing Authority (NHA), or to build water supply systems, which is the concern of the Local Water Utilities Administration or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

He maintained that the role of the DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is simply supervision — not control — of provinces, cities and municipalities, adding that his office at DILG has no core technical expertise in water supply or administering low cost houses.

"And even if he has, that is not his mandate. That is the responsibility of the National Housing Authority," Marcos stressed.

Marcos says that, instead of managing water supply projects or build houses, the DILG secretary should instead focus on improving the peace and order situation and homeland security.

He added that the DILG secretary should strive toward ensuring that Filipinos feel safe at home, on the streets, in their workplaces and renew their trust with men in uniform, the police.

He likewise questioned why there is a proposed allotment, as much as P1.003 billion under the item "local government performance management-based Challenge for LGUs", rationalizing that LGUs are expected to function and render services in an excellent manner, and should not need to be compensated for executing their basic function.

"LGUs are adequately endowed," he added.

Some P3.143 billion for the PAMANA (or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program, Marcos said, should be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways with the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process) explaining who are the real beneficiaries.

He also added that another P1.27 billion of SALIN Tubig program would best be allocated to the Local Water Utilities Administration of the DPWH since the DILG has no relevant technical expertise.

Meanwhile, the P1.244 billion housing program for informal settlers should go to the National Housing Authority and the DILG should explain how it spent its budget for this purpose in 2014, Marcos said.

The P5.664 billion provision for water supply under the grassroots participatory budgeting program, he added, should apply to the local budget process. "Political institutions like Congress should be strengthened, not weakened," he emphasized.

Marcos said the P250 million empowerment fund simply fails to explain how it contributes to the mandate of the DILG. While the P22 million civil society/organization partnership program is another expense item that is not clear on how it contributes to the mandate of DILG.

Marcos said the 2015 proposed national budget, the last that the Aquino administration is submitting to Congress for authorization with 270 pages of Errata is "solid proof that the budget was haphazardly done."