House members may ask DPWH for P24M in infra-A A +A
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
FIVE lawmakers from Cebu raised no opposition when they learned about a plan to let each member of the Lower House propose up to P24.5 million in infrastructure projects next year.
But some also said that with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) abolished, they will have to find other ways to provide projects for their constituents.
Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north) said he submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) a proposal for a P24.5-million multi-purpose building for a “community and family medicine” program.
That is the total cap for projects that every congressman should propose, according to the agreement between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the House of Representatives through Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Rappler.com reported.
According to the report, starting next year, each member of the Lower House will be allowed to propose between three and five projects under the DPWH that would not exceed P24.5 million.
South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa said he decided to use the P24.5 million for a hospital in Barangay Bonbon “to cater to the health needs of constituents in the mountain barangays, an indigent drugs rehabilitation center in Barangay Labangon and a senior citizens/youth center in Barangay Tisa.”
Government is under pressure to reform the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), amid allegations that billions of it went to fake non-government organizations and irregular projects in 2007 to 2009.
Under the old system, each member of the Lower House would get P40 million a year for infrastructure projects and P30 million for “soft” projects like training and social services.
Del Mar said he continues to receive calls from constituents, including barangay officials, for financial assistance for health care. He used to have health cards that his constituents could use in cases of health emergencies.
The fund was with the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
Del Mar said he is used to giving his pork barrel fund equitably among 46 barangays for infrastructure projects, on top of the health care funds he sets aside.
“This will cater to hospitalization and the medicine program that I have been doing for years,” said del Mar.
There are no specifics yet but he wants the building located in a strategic place that would reach the most barangays. Initially, he would want it managed by VSMMC.
Abellanosa, for his part, said he is not dependent on the pork barrel funds.
He claims to have secured P188 million from DPWH for flood control projects and P68 million from the Department of Agriculture for road concreting projects and bridges.
Abellanosa also said he was able to ask for P93 million from the Department of Education (DepEd) for new school buildings and P15 million from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the construction of potable water systems.
While he has no problem with the scrapping of the PDAF for something else, Rep. Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu Province, Second District) said he is concerned that government agencies might not be able to implement all the recommended projects.
Caminero told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that while he has no question about the stricter policies, he is concerned about how the amount will be used by the DPWH and other concerned agencies.
“We, as legislators, are answerable to our own districts, while government agency heads are answerable to their appointing heads,” he said.
But if the DPWH and their local counterparts cannot implement the projects being recommended by congressmen in their districts, then they will have some explaining to do, Caminero added.
Rep. Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. (Cebu Province, First District) said he plans to try to work around the policies to make sure that infrastructure projects in his district will be implemented.
But like Caminero, Gullas hopes that the DPWH would approve the infrastructure projects he would recommend to the agency.
Rep. Aileen Radaza (Lapu-Lapu City) expressed support for the new pork barrel rule.
“We are glad that this House rule is now being implemented. We can now look at our own projects in the district, especially the construction of academic and multi-purpose buildings and rehabilitation of the causeway at Barangay Marigondon,” she said in a text message.
“In the words of Speaker Belmonte, everything will run equitably,” she added.
Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu Province, sixth district) did not answer Sun.Star Cebu’s repeated calls yesterday.
Also yesterday, the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) prepared to try to get P18 million from Sen. Teofisto Guingona III’s PDAF.
The PB passed a resolution authorizing Gov. Hilario Davide III to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office.
Drafted by PB Member Grecilda Sanchez, the MOA between Davide and DSWD 7 Director Mercedita Jabagat is for the transfer of PDAF, which was intended for the comprehensive and integrated delivery of social services (CIDSS) program.
Guingona last year allocated the P18 million for DSWD Central Visayas.
The resolution provides that DSWD is mandated to provide support to local government units (LGU) to uplift the lives of the disadvantaged children, women, persons with disabilities and other individuals/families in crisis situations.
It said that the Capitol sees the need to transfer the funds to its coffers since the Province provides social services.
Last Sept. 10, the Supreme Court restrained the use of the PDAF.
But Davide’s chief of staff, lawyer Ramil Abing, explained that this portion of Guingona’s PDAF was covered by last year’s Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), so it should no longer be covered by the court’s restraining order.
A separate allocation of P9 million, however, was issued in March 2013.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 01, 2013.