Bare senators behind budget cuts, Sotto dared

Vicente Sotto III

INSTEAD of firing salvos of high-sounding insults at congressmen, Senate President Tito Sotto was dared to name the senators who proposed the budget cuts and realignments.

Responding to Sotto’s statement against members of the House of Representatives, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations Rep. Rolando Andaya accused the Senate President of diversionary tactics.

Earlier, Andaya disclosed that it was the senators who realigned some P83 billion in the 2019 budget which resulted in sabotaging the priority projects of President Rodrigo Duterte particularly the Build, Build, Build program.

“Delusional. Obfuscate. The Senate President has resorted to name calling and language engineering in a bid to divert public attention from the drastic budget cuts imposed by the Senate on the President’s major infrastructure projects and social programs,” Andaya said.

“But the Senate President need not consult the dictionary in search of more pompous words. All he has to do is explain to the public why the Senate slashed the budget not only of Build, Build, Build projects, but also of pension for uniformed personnel and retirement benefits of government employees,” Andaya added.

The House leader challenged Sotto to reveal the names of all senators who made budget cuts and show the items where these were realigned.

The House of Representatives will furnish the public photocopies of original documents showing the extent of budget cuts imposed by the Senate on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill, in the spirit of transparency.

The items taken out of the 2019 GAB by the Senate include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Department of Transportation - P5 billion for right-of-way projects;

* Department of Public Works and Highways - P 11.033 billion for right-of-way projects

* Foreign Assisted Projects under DPWH - P2.5 billion;

* Tehnical Education and Skills Development Authority - P3 billion for scholarship of rebel returnees, out-of-school youths and rehabilitating drug dependents enrolled under the Universal Access to Tertiary Education.

* Department of Environment and Natural Resources - P2.254 billion for National Greening Program, which resulted in 50 percent budget cut for all PENROs except Antique.

* Department of Foreign Affairs - P7.5 billion budget for SEA Games taken out, but P5 billion transferred to Philippine Sports Commission and P2.5 billion nowhere to be found.

* Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund - P13.4 billion.

*Pension and Gratuity Fund - P39 billion.