THE BICAMERAL Conference Committee on the 2018 national budget broke the impasse over realignments after the Senate and the House of Representatives ironed out their differences, including the P50 billion that the upper chamber had cut from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), a member said.
“The good news is it has been broken. [On Monday,] we came into an agreement that the budget cuts that were done by the Senate particularly on DPWH will no longer push through based on our meetings so that will not carry in the Bicameral Committee version,” said Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The impasse stemmed from the Senate’s version of the 2018 budget, which took away P50 billion from the P62.68 billion budget of the DPWH.
The Senate wanted the funds rechanneled to other projects of the government but the House said it was to be used for the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Last week there was sort of an impasse between the two panels, the House and the Senate, because of several budget cuts that were done by the Senate in its version, which did not sit well with members of the House panel so we had to find a way for us to be able to break that impasse,” Nograles said in the interview.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who pushed for the cut in the DPWH budget, said he wanted the agency and the Department of Budget and Management to explain where the P50 billion would go.
“I think [on]Monday the DBM and DPWH were able to explain very well that these were part of the Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration. And doing those cuts, the P50.7-B, the P50.8-B cuts will really affect the infrastructure program of the DPWH and the administration,” Nograles said.
Instead of P50.7 billion, the two chambers of Congress agreed to reduce it by just P4 billion, according to Nograles.
Aside from this, the P900-million budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the war on drugs and “Oplan Double Barrel,” were realigned to the National Housing Authority (NHA) program for police and military personnel, Nograles said. RALPH U. VILLANUEVA