House Majority Floor Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.on Friday said Speaker Gloria Arroyo ranked 100th among 292 members of Congress in terms of highest congressional allocations under the 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
Andaya, committee on rules chairperson, said a maximum P8-billion fund was placed for the projects of a certain lawmaker.
He issued such statement to deny Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim that Arroyo’s district cornered huge funds.
He said he knew that he and Mrs. Arroyo were the two lawmakers being referred to by Lacson who supposedly received huge congressional allocations under the national budget.
On Wednesday, Lacson bared a congressman got at least P1.9 billion in congressional insertions while a congresswoman got P2.4 billion.
Figures from the General Appropriations Bill 2 the House version of the national budget bill―showed P2.4 billion worth of projects are in Pampanga’s second district while P1.9 billion in projects are in Camarines Sur.
These amounts are aside from the P60 million each House member got for his or her pet projects.
Andaya represents the first district of Camarines Sur, while Arroyo represents the second district of Pampanga.
But Andaya was quoted as saying the House Appropriations Committee was behind the P4.3-billion “pork” in the House version of the proposed P3.7-trillion budget for 2019.
He added he did not seek added funding for road projects in his district, and even asked the House appropriations committee not to make insertions without notifying the Senate.
The committee, however, showed “misplaced generosity” and accommodated requests by regional directors of the Department of Public Works and Highways for road projects in Camarines Sur and flood control projects in Pampanga, Andaya was quoted as saying.
But Lacson said that if the appropriations committee disobeyed orders from the House leadership, the beneficiaries should return the amounts.
Lacson said regional directors and district engineers did not have the authority to seek funding amounting to billions of pesos.
Meanwhile, he also sought the restoration of some P4.8 billion to the budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), so it could fulfill its functions for the coming year.
He said TESDA’s budget was slashed from P14.676 billion to P9.815 billion supposedly due to its low obligation rate, this was not its fault.
“In 2018 they received the budget from the Commission on Higher Education in September. So there was little time to obligate. That is the reason why they have a very low obligation rate in 2018, only 58 percent,” he said at the budget deliberations for the TESDA.
“I suppose the low obligation rate is the justification for not giving them enough money because they could not absorb the money. But it’s not their own doing. Had they received their portion of the budget earlier, they could have obligated much larger portion of their budget,” he added.
He said documents furnished to him show the TESDA’s situation is “pathetic,” with its scarcity of funds forcing it to serve only 2.7 percent of its potential clientele for the last three years.
Lacson said he was willing to help look for other sources of funding for the TESDA’s 2019 budget.
“I’d like to reiterate my appeal on behalf of TESDA, give back the P4.8 billion,” he said.