THE national government is spending up to P63 billion next year for Right-of-Way (ROW) payments as President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration accelerates public infrastructure spending under its Build, Build, Build Program, House Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said on Sept. 15, 2019.

In the proposed P4.1 trillion General Appropriations Act for 2020, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is getting P44 billion for ROW expenses, while the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is getting another P19 billion for the same purpose, according to Pimentel.

“To foster greater transparency, we are renewing our call for both departments to post on their respective websites the list of payees, the amounts paid and the properties acquired to pave the way for infrastructure projects,” Pimentel said.

“This is crucially important, considering that the allocations for ROW spending appear as lump sums in the budget,” Pimentel, one-time House good government and public accountability committee chairperson, pointed out.

In the case of the DPWH, Pimentel said the ROW payments are meant for the construction of new roads, flyovers and bridges, among others.

As to the DOTr, Pimentel said the ROW expenses are meant for new aviation, railway and maritime infrastructure projects such as the Kalibo International Airport, Roxas Airport in Capiz, Dumaguete Airport in Negros Oriental, Calbayog Airport in Samar, Ipil Airport in Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga International Airport, Mati Airport in Davao Oriental, M’lang Airport in North Cotabato, Metro Manila Subway Phase I, North-South Commuter Railway, South Long-Haul Railway, Cebu International Container Port, and the Mindanao Railway.

ROW expenses are authorized by Republic Act 10752. Under the law, the national government may acquire real property needed as ROW site or location for any infrastructure project via donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisition, as provided by law.

Both the DOTr and the DPWH are required to settle all ROW obligations before the start of projects. (PR)