MANILA -- Amid criticisms from a party-list group on the P2.2 billion worth of public works and highways projects for the former President's district in Pampanga, the other camp was quick to defend itself saying it would benefit other areas as well.

Akbayan party-list Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao accused former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to have used her power as President "to secure her political interests".

The group urged President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to cancel or at least suspend the projects until a study is conducted on the alleged over construction of roads in the second district of Pampanga.

Out of the P2.2 billion worth of projects, P1.6 billion will be funded by foreign firms while P500 million is the government counterpart. The projects cover the ongoing repair of the Olongapo-Gapan road in Guagua, Pampanga and the Mount Pinatubo Hazard Urgent Mitigation Project.

"Kahit anong pangugutang na gagawin ng isang bansa meron po dun lagi yung nakataya din galing sa umuutang so kung hihimayin yung P2.2 billion, yung P500 million po dun counterpart po ng gobyerno at yung balanse ay utang natin," Arroyo's spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn explained to reporters.

She noted that with the road project, which was funded by a Korean firm since 2003, other areas also stand to benefit from it.

“Sa tingin ko, hindi naman po tama na sabihin na ginamit niya yung implewensya niya para mapunta po ito sa kanyang distrito dahil noong 2003, sa tingin ko that time ay wala pang plano sa pagtakbo konrgesista ang dating pangulo," Horn added.

The loan agreement for the Mount Pinatubo Hazard Urgent Mitigation Project meanwhile started in 1996 way before Arroyo was elected President. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)