Bongbong questions 12 billion peso lump sums to 2015 DILG budget says “water supply and low cost housing not within DILG responsibilities”

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr today termed the nearly 13 billion peso errata allotment for water supply and low cost housing to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as “lump sums” and has asked the Department of Budget and Management why it allowed this to be included in the 2015 National budget.

Sen. Bongbong 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 empowered to supervise local government units, and not build houses or manage low-cost housing projects for informal settlers.

The senator from Ilocos Norte took the floor in questioning the 12.9 billion pesos “errata” allocation which came from seven fund sources under a 270 page errata provision in the proposed national budget.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Governments, Marcos insisted that the DILG is not empowered by law to build housing units, which is given to the National Housing Authority (NHA) or to create water supply 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 is simply supervision – not control—of provinces, cities and municipalities. He has no technical expertise on water supply or administering low cost houses.

“The DILG chief has no technical expertise in low-cost housing, 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 instead should focus on improving the peace and order situation and homeland security. He adds that the DILG secretary should strive towards ensuring that Filipinos feel safe at home, on the streets, in their workplaces and renew their trusts with men in uniform.

Bongbong likewise questioned why allot as much as P 1.003 billion pesos under the item “local government performance management-based Challenge for LGUs”, rationalizing that LGUs are expected to function and give services in an excellent manner and are not to be compensated for doing their basic functions.

“LGUs are adequately endowed,” he added.

The P3.143 billion of PAMANA (or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program, Marcos said, should be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways with the OPAPP (or the 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 technical expertise on this.

Meanwhile, the P1.244 billion housing program for informal settlers fund 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 funds 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 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.”

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