SENATOR Nancy Binay sees politics behind the move of Malacañang to impound the additional P300 million funding allotted by Congress to the National Housing Authority (NHA) under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and intended for the housing needs of thousands of homeless Filipinos displaced by typhoons and other natural calamities.
Binay was the one who requested the funding during the period of amendments to the 2014 proposed GAA last year after learning that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) gave zero budget for emergency housing assistance, resettlement and other calamity-related funding that the NHA used to have under the General Appropriations Act.
“I don’t want to think that the NHA is being singled out by (DBM) Secretary (Florencio) Abad because of politics. But this is not the first time the DBM refused to release the budget of NHA,” the senator said.
NHA is an agency under the supervision of Vice President Jejomar Binay, currently the strongest contender for President whom Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the Liberal Party (LP) is expected to face during the 2016 race to Malacañang.
The Vice President is Sen. Binay’s father.
According to the senator, the DBM first slashed NHA’s budget for 2014 and gave zero allocations for calamity assistance and resettlement. Then, it redirected the budget for resettlement of informal settlers to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and, more recently, the Budget department impounded the P300 million, which, she said, could have been used to help victims of typhoons Ruby and Yolanda.
Binay said she sees no reason behind the DBM’s impounding of the P300 million considering that it went through the proper process during budget deliberations, approved by Congress and subsequently signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd last week.
She added that they are still waiting for help coming from the government because of the DBM’s move to impound the NHA funding meant for housing.
In defending Malacañang’s move to impound the P300 million, Abad said the requested fund will not be released anymore because the 2014 budget will expire on December 31.
The Budget secretary noted a “special request” from the proponent of the realignment and the intended beneficiary-agency of the funding was needed in order for them to make the release but he has not received any request on the matter.
Sen. Binay, however, criticized Abad’s treatment of the funds of the NHA as if they are part of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which necessitates a special request from a proponent and the intended beneficiary.
The senator said she is aware of the unconstitutionality of the PDAF but Abad’s reason for impounding the P300 million came as a surprise.
“I can’t accept the reason of Secretary Abad that he decided to impound that requested funding because there was no special request from the proponent. What he did has affected thousands of displaced and homeless Filipinos who were victims of (typhoons Yolanda and Ruby),” Binay added.
The funding request, the senator said, was not done in secret and that Senate finance committee chairman Francis Escudero accommodated it because he sees the need for it after Abad gave a “zero” budget for the housing agency’s calamity assistance fund and the item for resettlement in the 2014 GAA.
Binay noted that the fund is “not a realignment” of the controversial PDAF as what Abad was trying to suggest, but rather an amendment to augment the NHA budget.
She is one of 15 senators who agreed to have their PDAF allocations removed in the 2014 proposed budget after the SC declared the funds illegal. Only a few senators decided to realign their PDAF with calamity fund, and to projects of the national government on education and health.