Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said that he would ask the Department of Budget and Management to explain the "parked funds" worth over P20 billion in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 it submitted to Congress.
Parked funds, according to the senator, are those allocated to an item in a government agency's budget but with no definite purpose.
In contentious budget deliberations in past years, "parked funds" referred to those allocated to a congressional district but reserved for the use of another.
Asked who inserted the questionable items in the proposed 2020 budget, Lacson said he did not know. He expressed doubt that the parked funds had a paper trail.
“There’s no way to find out. Kasi that’s between several congressmen and the DBM kung paano nakapasok. Walang paper trail kasi verbal ‘yan. Kasi walang definite na paggagamitan, naka-park lang doon,” Lacson said.
He said the practice went against the Supreme Court ruling on pork barrel.
“In this case, naka-park ito as lump sum and tama, that’s also considered pork as per SC ruling. May ruling ang SC na kapag it amounts to abuse of discretion, pork pa rin yan. Kung lump sum, subject ito sa abuse of discretion. Pareho ang kahihinatnan noon,” Lacson said.
He said there were also “parked” funds in the districts but he refused to identify these.
“Mapapaaway na naman tayo. Marami yan, kalat-kalat,” Lacson said.
The senator said he already asked the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Public Works and Highways about the “parked” funds found in their appropriations but the officials of the said agencies said they were unaware of the parked allocations.
“Ipapa-clarify ko actually. And I have all the items, all the descriptions of the appropriations. Iku-question namin ‘yan how they intend to spend,” Lacson told reporters when asked about the matter.
“Question siyempre sa deliberation. Sa interpellation, we’ll question and let them explain. Kung ma-explain nila properly how they intend to implement those projects, then fine. Okay lang,” he added.
He said among the questionable funds were the P4 billion under the Assistance to Local Government Units (ALGU)-Other Financial Assistance to LGUs.
“When I asked Secretary (Eduardo) Año and DILG officials during the budget deliberation for the DILG kung alam nila ang P4 billion at alam nila paano gamitin, sagot nila hindi,” Lacson said.
He said another item was P2.5 billion, also under the ALGU but under the “Assistance to Cities.”
“Ang ibang items Assistance to Provinces and Municipalities naka-indicate, naka-itemize. So ito ang nakita nating problematic ang implementation, if they can be implemented at all,” he said.
He said the ALGU item is unique because some of the fund is under the DBM.
“Bakit magkakaroon ng P4 billion naka-lodge sa SPF (special purpose fund) under the care of DBM and another P2.5 billion described as Assistance to Cities na nasa DBM din? Ito ika-clarify natin when we tackle the budget on the floor particularly sa general principles. Bakit ganoon, hindi consistent,” said Lacson.
He further said there is also P14 billion questionable fund under the DPWH and part of it are funding for a road project in Kennon Road.
“For example, sa Kennon Road may P507 million and another P70 million which is okay kasi nakadescribe anong gagawin. Baka mamaya mag-overlap ang P70-plus million na stationing na naka-describe pagkatapos may P507 million,” he said.
He remembered that he earlier questioned a similar overlapping of funds for a some road projects in Sorsogon.
“The problem is when I asked DPWH kung nasaan ang na-save dahil sa overlapping dahil di na kailangan gawin ang nagawa na ng isang contractor, hindi naman binalik. So hindi savings for the country, naging savings ng whoever. ‘Yan ang problema,” Lacson said.
“And waste ito ng public funds. So while this involves sabihin natin measly amount compared to the P4.1 trillion, pag pinagsama-sama mo it will run to the tens if not hundreds of millions of pesos. Sayang ‘yan,” he added. —NB, GMA News