THE constituencies of at least 24 opposition lawmakers will not receive any allocation for their infrastructure projects under the 2018 General Appropriations Act, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Wednesday.
“Zero allocations are projected to punish and silence opposition legislators even as it is their constituencies who are deprived of the benefits of infrastructure development,” Lagman said.
He said the projects had been approved on third reading and were part of the 2018 budget but removed in the bicameral conference committee.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez confirmed that critics of President Rodrigo Duterte have been given no funding for their infrastructure projects, saying the leadership must give priority to projects of their allies who supported the President.
This approach is not new, Alvarez added, saying the previous administration did the same thing.
But Lagman scored what he said was a policy of vengeance.
“Vengeance, plus caprice equals zero allocations for authentic opposition representatives and other targeted legislators in the House of Representatives. Steadfast critical dissent and perceived waywardness have left the respective constituencies of two dozen solons destitute of infrastructure projects under the 2018 GAA,” he said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., also a member of the opposition, also lamented the zero-budget allocation.
“The unilateral removal of projects already approved by Congress on third reading is an assault on democracy which rests on critical checks and balances,” he said.
“My constituents in Ifugao are taxpayers, too. The allocations would have improved the national roads to the rice terraces and poor upland communities. We in the opposition are not in Congress to obstruct, but rather our role is to raise a howl when [something] wrong is being committed and give praise when it is warranted.”
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the move “serves as fair warning to the rest of the House members that all must obey and support the move for a constituent assembly, no elections in 2019, and a shift to constitutional authoritarianism.”