Why single out Pampanga? Speaker asks

December 11, 2018
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

FORMER President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday said she felt being unfairly singled out in the issue of budget allocation because her district is not among the highest of those that were earmarked allocations by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In an interview with members of the House media, Speaker Arroyo said she feels that she and her district in Pampanga are being singled for the baseless allegations that they got the biggest budget allocation in the 2019 budget and that only her allies have big allocations.

“All I know is that I am not the biggest recipient of any budget. I’m like maybe between no. 60 to no. 80 and all I know is it’s not true that only my allies go bigger than me. Several of those who were there before and are not there anymore still have bigger shares than me, than my district. It’s not me, it’s district to district,” she said.

Speaker Arroyo also said she was not the one who prepared the budget and the Majority Leader Rolando Andaya and the Appropriations Committee are the ones who know the details.

She also said she could not understand why she should explain why there are allocations to her district since her district is not the biggest recipient of allocations. She said those who got the biggest allocations are not her allies but were part of the previous leadership.

Andaya, in the same media interview, said he prepared a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte to explain the issue.

“I’ve prepared a letter to President Duterte in response to the statement of Presidential spokesperson and we are reporting to him that as passed by the House the speaker’s district allocation is ranked no. 60 and that the Majority Leaders’ district is ranked no. 110, so it’s not true that the House leadership has cornered the large allocations of public works. As approved again on third reading the no. 1 recipient would still be former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s district with around P5 billion, the former Majority leader Farinas with 3.5 billion and the former chairman of the Appropriations Committee Karlo Nograles  with 4 billion just to set the record straight. They are all in the Top 10. Speaker Arroyo is ranked no. 60 while my district is no. 110,” Andaya said.

Andaya further stated that when the budget was submitted to the DBM by the House of Representatives, Alvarez was no. 1 and the three officials were in the Top 10 and when it was approved under Speaker Arroyo, Alvarez was still No. 1l and the two others were still in the top 10. “So it’s not true that the Speaker gave instructions to give funding to her allies. It’s still the same,” he said.

Speaker Arroyo also said those who are questioning the flood control projects in her district in Pampanga should talk to Lita Manalo, DPWH project manager in charge of Pampanga’s flood control project. “Why don’t you ask our flood control director, Lita Manalo. In fact I don’t know if they were able to bring them in there because she was complaining that there were 700 million of flood control for my district was not put in. And that was made through a master plan, a flood control master plan,” she said.

She noted that these are the projects in Lubao and Sasmuan which are coastal towns that are perennially flooded.

Speaker Arroyo stated that just like the resolution on Charter change, she does not dictate the details of the budget.

“Because even if I’m speaker, I think Nonoy Andaya and many congressmen will attest to that, that I don’t dictate. I don’t dictate on the details. Remember even in the Charter change, the only thing I put in was the mechanism for a federal statement only because it was not moving forward when they were using their own formulas. All the others that were added like tax measures, all of them are depending on the committee. I only recommend something just to make it move forward because my job as a speaker is to shepherd legislation to make it happen and not to discuss the contents and that the same attitude I have with respect to the budget,” she stressed.

This is the reason why she asked Andaya to write the explanation to the President because she does not have personal knowledge of details of the budget.

She finds it therefore unfair that she is being criticized. When asked what is the motive behind the unjust criticizism, she said does not want to speculate. “Well I cannot probe, I cannot make allegations about somebody else’s motive just as it’s not right for them to make allegations about me. It is not right about motive because motive is speculative,” she pointed out.