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Chiz Escudero: Where did P137B for Yolanda rehab go? I don’t see it

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance on Thursday questioned the government's handling of the P137-billion that Congress earlier set aside for the rehabilitation and reconstruction in areas affected by supertyphoon Yolanda.

Senator Francis Escudero said he still didn't see where the money went and would like to know how it was spent before discussing the P23-billion supplemental budget the executive branch is now asking from Congress.

“I have to ask them naubos na ba nila yung P137 billion. Ganun na ba kalaki ang nagastos natin sa Yolanda affected areas?" Escudero said in a news forum at the Senate.

"Quite frankly, I don’t see, it , I don’t feel it and certainly the  people in Region 8 don’t see it and feel it either,” he added.

Escudero said P37 billion was allocated for post-Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction in 2013 while P100 billion was included in the 2014 national budget.
“Yung P137 billion  more or less, ubos na ba yun? Nagamit na ba nila? Saan napunta bago may dagdag na naman para dyan?” Escudero said.

Of the amount, P9.5 billion will go to the Yolanda rehabilitation program, while P1.44 will go to APEC preparations.

Escudero said the budget department should justify their request. 

“Aanhin pa nila yung dagdag na authority na yun e me authority na sila na napakalaki. Kung biglang may excess revenue para magastusan nila yan e di iactivate na lang sana nila yung P80 billion sa unprogrammed funds,” he said. 
“I cannot speak for the Senate as a body but personally hindi ako makaka-agree unless majustify po nila yun at maipaliwanag muna nila yung unang authority to release na ibinigay namin sa kanila,” said Escudero, chairman of the finance committee.
He said he will also ask why the DBM did not include the amount in the 2015 proposed national budget.
“Bakit  kailangan supplemental pa ang paraan na gagamitin nila, that also I do not understand,” he said.
Escudero added that he has yet to see a copy of the request.
“I haven’t seen it quite frankly. I’ve only read about it from newspaper accounts. Hindi ko pa actual na nakikita yung bill. Minsan may version nang binibigay sa amin, ito ni wala akong kopyang nakikita pa,  ni walang kopyang pinoforward sa amin,” he said.
House Speaker  Feliciano Belmonte earlier said the proposal will go through the usual scrutiny under legislative processes. —NB, GMA News