Lawmakers tag pet projects in 2014 budget
MANILA - Most of the 289 congressmen submitted their proposed infrastructure projects for itemization in the proposed 2014 national budget ahead of the plenary vote on 2nd reading.
"Virtually all. We're running after maybe 20," House Speaker Sonny Belmonte said Friday.
"Most of them have already submitted their proposal so ipapasok namin sa period of amendments," House Appropriations Committee Chair Isidro Ungab said. "There will be a small committee (that) will collate all the amendments. Tamang-tama before maipasa on 3rd reading, kumpleto na amendments."
Ungab said he expects all lawmakers to identify projects for their constituents.
He added they hope to approve the budget bill on 2nd reading Friday night, with the realignments of the P25.4 billion legislative Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to items in social services and infrastructure.
However, lump sum funds under the executive department will stay.
"Ang lump sum appropriations, we have to retain (them). There were a lot of questions about the calamity fund. Kailangan talaga iyun. Hindi natin alam ilang bagyo dumadating. All the others are very well explained during the budget deliberations," Ungab said.
The PDAF was deleted as a lump sum and realigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Deparment of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Health (DOH) to remove lawmakers's discretion.
Realignments to the DPWH will be used to fund as many as 5 infrastructure projects worth at least P2 million each but not exceeding a total of P24.5 million for each lawmaker.
The projects have to be proposed by each lawmaker as an amendment to the budget bill prior to final bill approval.
Lawmakers were given the following guidelines in nominating infrastructure projects:
- P24.5 million per district/party-list representative for the construction and rehabilitation of the following to be implemented by the DPWH: Local roads/bridges/footbridges, classrooms or academic buildings, multi purpose buildings and level 2 and level 3 water supply systems
- Any proposal for the availment shall include the project title, detailed desciption including nature/scope, location (barangay and municipality)
- Estimated cost of the project and district engineering office
- Maximum of 5 projects per representative. Amount of each project shall not be less than P2 million
- Cluster of projects is allowed, provided they belong to the same project category and to be implemented by the same distruct engineering office
- Except for party-list represnetatives, no project should be identified outside the legislative district
- Deadline of submission is on or before September 25 to the Committee of Appropriations
Members of the Makabayan bloc earlier said they won't identifiy projects. The leftwing group of lawmakers is calling for the complete abolition of the pork barrel system.
The realignments and itemization were the result of public outrage at the pork barrel scam.
After approving the P2.26-trillion proposed national budget on 2nd reading, the lower House will go on a 2-week break.
Upon resumption, the House will approve the budget bill on 3rd reading so it can be transmitted to the Senate for its own consideration.
The budget is expected to be passed into law by December.