DPWH needs P1.9 B to settle PDAF debts

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OFFICIALS of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) could be sued next year if they fail to convince Congress to grant their request for additional funding to pay project contractors.

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Secretary Rogelio Singson, of the DPWH said hundreds of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects remain unpaid following the Supreme Court’s decision rendering PDAF unconstitutional.

Singson said some of the projects have been completed, while others were left unfinished because the DPWH did not release the payment to contractors.

“After the suspension [of payment]we incurred outstanding obligations and that is why we are seeking additional funding in order for us to settle them,” Singson said in an interview with reporters after the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on the proposed P22.4 billion supplemental budget.

Malacañang is asking Congress for the additional budget in order to pay the projects funded under PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The DPWH is asking P1.9 billion for them to settle their obligations.

Singson said there are at least 6,000 projects that need to be settled by the agency to head off possible legal action by contractors.

He said PDAF projects are small undertakings like barangay roads, multi-purpose halls, classrooms and other minor structures assigned to the agency.

While the Supreme Court ruling on PDAF allows the payment of projects that have already been awarded and completed, the DPWH suspended payments altogether to avoid being cited in violation of the High Court order, Singson said.

“That is why we are asking for additional allocation, for us to pay for these projects, otherwise contractors will sue us,” he said.

The Senate finance committee has started deliberations on the P22.4-billion supplemental budget while waiting for the version of the House of Representatives.

Sen. Miriam Santiago, in a recent interview called the proposed additional allocation as an attempt by Malacañang to skirt the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP.

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