SENATOR Panfilo Lacson wants another P3.6 billion of the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 2017 removed for violation of Republic Act 9054 or the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Lacson is pushing for the removal of the amount from the DPWH budget after learning that the agency intends to use it for infrastructure projects within ARMM, which is not allowed by law.
“The DPWH cannot implement projects within ARMM because the organic law that created the region has its own DPWH,” he noted.
The DPWH regional office in ARMM is mandated to undertake planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, flood control and water resources projects and other public works.
Lacson said there seems to be an attempt to control the funds though the DPWH headed by Secretary Mark Villar.
The 3.6 billion is on top of the P8.317 billion the House of Representatives transferred to DPWH to fund infrastructure projects in ARMM.
“If you add the P8.3 billion and the P3.6 billion that the House of Representatives allotted to ARMM and divide it among eight legislative districts in the region, it would mean that each congressman in ARMM could get P1.5 billion worth of projects next year,” Lacson pointed out.
He questioned the realignment and insisted that the P3.6 billion be returned to ARMM or have the DPWH keep it but not implement it in the autonomous region.
The House of Representatives initially took a hardline stance on the matter but Lacson said there is an indication that the chamber might give in to the Senate’s proposal.
The Senate backed Lacson and agreed to reallocate the P3.6 billion to the budget of State Universities and Colleges or SUCs for the education of poor but deserving students.
But this proposal will have to be approved by the House of Representatives in the bicameral conference committee.