House leader hits budget ‘fake news’

PEDDLER of fake news.

This is how Majority Leader Fredenil Castro described Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on his allegations that the House leadership has taken away P92.3 billion from the 2019 national budget and distributed them to favored members of the House of Representatives.

Castro said there is no truth to the allegations of Villafuerte.

“I can say with authority that Rep. Villafuerte is peddling fake news. I pity my good friend L-Ray, but I understand where he is coming from. He is one of the former House leaders who stood to gain billions in projects had we not corrected the inequities in the National Expenditure Program,” Castro said.

The new House leadership under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo discovered the budget anomalies allegedly manipulated by the allies of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Based on records, Alvarez’s team inserted P52 billion for infrastructure projects.

Castro added that Villafuerte was allocated P2.7 billion by the previous House leadership.

“Of this amount, P1.2 billion was included in the P75-billion insertion by the former DBM boss, which congressmen questioned and opposed during the budget deliberation,” Castro said.

Castro also said that aside from Villafuerte, more than two dozen select congressmen were also given huge allocations ranging from P3 billion to P8 billion per district by the previous House leaders.

The current House leadership considers the wide discrepancy in the distribution of programs and projects unconscionable, Castro added.

The Majority Leader said that Speaker Arroyo will no longer allow the old practice of the previous House leadership, which dispenses programs and projects based on loyalties and votes on legislative measures.

“That was the reason why there was zero allocation for several congressional districts before,” Castro stressed.

Based on the current guidelines, Castro said, they made sure allocations were equitably distributed.  

“If we have not resorted to this, the mind-boggling allocations for previous House leaders and their pet districts, plus DBM insertions the DPWH were clueless about, would have remained intact,” he also said.

Castro also said that they made sure that the 2019 budget is not only constitutional and legal. It is also transparent, with the list of projects itemized per district.

“This way, our taxpayers will know who are accountable for these projects. If Rep. Villafuerte and other allies of the previous House leadership are not happy with their share of the national budget, there are more than 200 congressmen who think otherwise,” he said.

“Unlike before, programs and projects are now equitably funded for all legislative districts, regardless of their congressmen’s political affiliation and votes on legislative districts,” the solon added.