Koko Pimentel blasts DPWH P544 billion lump sum budget: 'Rich source of pork'

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has flagged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its P544-billion lump sum appropriations in its proposed 2023 budget. (PHOTO: Facebook/Senate of the Philippines)
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has flagged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its P544-billion lump sum appropriations in its proposed 2023 budget. (PHOTO: Facebook/Senate of the Philippines)

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has flagged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its P544-billion lump sum appropriations in its proposed 2023 budget.

The lump sum is equivalent to 75% of the agency’s P718.4-billion appropriation for 2023 according to Pimentel, calling for transparency from the DPWH “down to the last centavo.”

“This is no small amount. The P544-billion lump sum funds is equivalent to 75 percent of the total appropriation of the DPWH for next year,” Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday (Oct 2).

“In the spirit of transparency, I call on the DPWH to provide the details of this huge allocation, down to the last centavo, so the Senate and the public will be able to scrutinize it,” he added.

The senator noted that lump-sum amounts are “prone to abuse and discretion” as they lack details.

“Lump sum funds lack details. The policy of the law is ‘line item budget,’ meaning ‘as detailed as possible.’ Lump sum [budgeting] is the work of lazy people,” Pimentel said.

“Every peso in the budget should be disaggregated. Lumang tugtugin na ang pagtatago ng bilyun-bilyong lump sum (Hiding billions of lump sum is old practice already). Let’s shun this practice,” he added.

The said budget could be a “rich source” of pork barrel funds which was declared as unconstitutional in 2013, Pimentel noted.

‘Duplicate functions’

Pimentel noted that P213.95 billion of the P544 billion lump sum appropriations includes P104.82 billion for Sustainable Infrastructure Projects Alleviating Gap (SIPAG) and P52.45 billion for Basic Infrastructure Program (BIP), both of which “seem to serve duplicative functions and have purposes.”

The minority chief also flagged the following appropriations:

  • ₱10.89 billion for widening of primary roads

  • ₱11.46 billion for secondary roads

  • ₱6.52 billion for tertiary roads

  • ₱113.09 billion for network development program

  • ₱21.09 billion for bridge program

  • ₱109 billion for flood management program

  • ₱86.18 billion for asset preservation programs or road rehabilitation, reconstruction, and upgrading (P9.19 billion for preventive maintenance of primary roads, P12.44 billion for secondary roads, and P9.51 billion for maintenance of tertiary roads.)

“Saang distrito at barangay mapupunta itong bilyun-bilyong alokasyon? (What districts and barangays will these multi-billion-peso allocations go to?)” Pimentel asked.

“The DPWH should disaggregate them and publicize the details immediately,” he said.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are his own.

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