PLANS

Malacanang is creating a Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

This was revealed during the plenary deliberations of the Office of the President’s budget proposal for 2018 at the House of Representatives.

During the interpellation, Kabataan Party List Rep. Sarah Elago asked about the administration’s fight against corruption.

The Budget’s principal sponsor, Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles (1st Dist., Davao City) said that a draft executive order is being finalized creating the Presidential AntiCorruption Commission, which will be ready in two months. Nograles explained that the President has done its part in addressing corruption through the legal division at the OP. The commission will enable the administration to focus more on the matter.

During the same interpellation, Nograles said the executive will not suspend the Oplen Double Barrel reloaded. Nograles said, the administration cannot just summarily suspend the operation because it will give saboteurs an edge . Nograles also said that the President has ordered the investigation of all the abuses committed by erring policemen in the continuing war against drugs and reiterated this in not state-sanctioned.

Elago asked Nograles about the President’s statements which seem to encourage killings, to which the appropriations committee chair responded that the police is only protecting itself from harm in its mandate to protect the people against criminals and drug personalities.

During the plenary session,  ACT Teachers Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio also assailed the executive’s decision to declare a special working holiday in Ilocos Norte for the Ferdinand Marcos birth centennial today.

“So malinaw po ang batayan ng declaration ng special non-working holiday sa probinsya ng ilocos norte para bigyan ng parangal si dating pangulong marcos. Ang tanong ko po ay ito po ba ay consistent sa mga umiiral na mga batas ng Pilipinas? I would like to mention first of all, executive order 201 particular ang malinaw po sa section 2 nito na tungkulin ng commission on good government ang una [reads section 2 of EO 201 creating PCGG] at ang executive order 2 po regarding the funds, money, assets, properties illegally acquired or misappropriated by former president Ferdinand Marcos, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, their close relatives, business associates, dummies and or nominees… ito po ay executive order freezing the assets of the Marcos Family [reads executive order 2]. We also have RA 10368, this is the act providing compensation for victims of Marcos human rights violations. The title reading [reads title of law], and in section 2, declaration of policy [reads section 2 of RA 10638]. “

Tinio failed to get Malacanang to rescined the proclamation.

“Well Mr. Speaker, alam ko na lagpas na po ng tanghali pero hindi natin tinatanggap na too late na para bawiin ang proklamasyon na ito. Ang usapin po rito ay ang historical record at ang nagpapatuloy na obligasyon ng estado. Hindi lang para sa actual reparation or actual recovery of ill-gotten wealth kung hindi yung moral obligation sa mga biktima. At mga biktima rito ay ang buong sambayanang Pilipino. Bukod dun sa mga particular na biktima, halimbawa biktima ng torture o mga pamilya ng mga EJKs, may moral obligation po na sinasabi ang batas, at talagang tahasang paglapastangan po sa mga biktimang ito at sa buong sambayanang Pilipino ang pagdeklara ng isang special holiday sa araw na ito. Kaya sa pagtingin po natin, ay hindi katanggap-tanggap ang pagkakaisyu ng proklamasyong ito mula sa Office of the President.”

The plenary terminated deliberations on the OP’s budget, along with the budget of the OVP, COMELEC, DICT, PMS, and PLLO.

meanwhile, the House will continue to deliberate on the proposed P643.3 billion proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for next year as there are other issues the agency needs to clarify during the floor deliberation.

 

Assistant Majority Floor Leader Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District, Pampanga) on Monday moved to suspend the plenary deliberation on the DPWH proposed budget as there are other issues the agency needs to clarify in the course of the floor deliberation.

 

“Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend consideration on the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways. I so move, Mr. Speaker,” said Gonzales.

 

The DPWH  proposed budget is 37.5 percent  higher than its allocation this year, which reflects the government’s massive infrastructure buildup plan.

 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared that infrastructure will be one of the main drivers of the country’s development  over the next few years.

 

During the initial plenary interpellation on Monday, Rep. Anthony Bravo (Party-list, COOP NATCCO) noted that the 2016 unused appropriations of the DPWH amounted to P 144 billion while the continuing appropriations for 2017 is only P105 billion.

 

“What happened to the rest of the amount because it was not continued in the succeeding year (2017) and there’s a huge difference of more than P39 billion?” Bravo asked.

 

House committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), sponsor of the DPWH budget, said the unused appropriations in 2016 was P7.4 billion and its breakdown represents savings from completed projects.

 

“Ito po yung natural savings na nakukuha ng departamento dahil po yung indicated amount pag nag-open bidding po yan, syempre pag lowest bid tayo, obviously meron po tayong natural savings doon. Lahat po ng savings sa lahat ng mga proyekto pinag-ipon-ipon po natin. Yung savings po natin from completed projects noong 2016 ay umabot sa halagang P7.4 billion,” said Nograles.

 

He said the DPWH has a variance from on-going projects amounting to P7.6 billion. The balance from all regional offices, district engineering offices and central office has reached P24 billion. The total amount is about P39 billion which makes up for the difference of the P144 billion unused appropriations and the P105 billion continuing appropriations, he said. 

 

Bravo also asked the DPWH to clarify the huge unreleased appropriations of P136 billion and the two percent utilization rate of the central office.

 

Nograles said the DPWH has already reported that the two percent utilization rate is not the latest figure. In fact, he said a lot of the funds have already been downloaded to projects.

 

“Rest assured that is no longer two percent. It’s even much, much higher than the amount of utilization rate. If that number seems to be alarming as far as the central office is concerned, the DPWH is clarifying that as of August 31, 2017 this has been already corrected,” said Nograles.

 

Aware of the lifespan of the budget of 2017, Bravo asked if the funds will be reverted to the national treasury if the DPWH will not utilize the funds.

 

Nograles said the DPWH has until December 31 to obligate the funds. But if they are not able to obligate,  the funds will be reverted to the national treasury, he said.

 

“Right now, the DPWH is committed to speed up their obligation rate. They have a lot of catching-up to do and have undertaken a lot of actions to speed-up their obligation rate. So, let us give them the chance. We have oversight functions (which we can exercise) to hold them accountable and to regularly check how fast they are obligating the funds that are lodged in the central office,” said Nograles.  

 

Meanwhile, Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte) asked how much is the total amount allocated to flood control projects for the year 2018 and the process of the DPWH in identifying flood control programs.

 

Nograles said that technical studies and master plans are being conducted and even identified in the regional development council. He said the DPWH also has a department order on the process of identification of flood control programs.

 

Dimaporo asked for the breakdown of allocation for the flood control projects for the regions in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, specifically in Mindanao to be submitted to the committee secretariat and copy furnished his office.

(sots)