GMA News Online – Bongbong questions P12.9B budget for projects not under DILG’s mandate
By Amita Legaspi | GMA News Online
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday night questioned the P12.9 billion allotment for water supply, low-cost housing and other projects to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which were contained in the errata submitted by the Department of Budget and Management.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate local government committee, said the DILG has no mandate 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 said the role of the DILG is simply supervision and not control of provinces, cities and municipalities.
“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 said.
He said that instead of managing water supply projects or building houses, the DILG, headed by Sec. Mar Roxas, should focus on improving the peace and order situation and homeland security.
He added that Roxas should strive towards ensuring that Filipinos feel safe at home, on the streets, in their workplaces and renew their trusts with men in uniform.
Within DILG’s mandate
But Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, said the programs are within the mandate of the department.
He explained the DILG will not undertake the project but will only supervise its implementation by the LGU and monitor compliance.
Marcos then asked for the basis of such setup, but Escudero said they will just give the senator documents regarding the project.
Roxas, together with other DILG officials, was at the session hall to assist Escudero in defending their budget.
Marcos said the 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 while the P5 .664 billion provision for water supply funds under the grassroots participatory budgeting program should apply to the local budget process.
He added the P1.244 billion allocation for the 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.
He also questioned why the DBM allotted as much as P 1.003 billion pesos under the item “local government performance management-based Challenge for LGUs” as local government units 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,” Marcos added.
The senator also said the P3.143 billion of PAMANA (or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program should be transferred to the DPWH with the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process) explaining who are the real beneficiaries.
Marcos noted 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 unclear program.
He said the 2015 proposed national budget, with the 270-page of errata is “solid proof that the budget was haphazardly done.”
Earlier on Monday, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago dubbed the proposed 2015 budget as lopsided, even linking it to the 2016 presidential elections, saying it gives too much money where it is not be placed and does not give enough to where it is needed most.