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Dapat ‘di manakawan! Ping urges vigilance vs graft in P9-T infra program

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Trillions of pesos in taxpayers’ money could be lost to corruption if Filipinos do not keep a close eye on how the government’s P9-billion infrastructure project is implemented.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson aired this warning as he stressed the role of watchdog is for everybody and not just for lawmakers.

“We should be watchful on the implementation of these projects. Losing just 20 percent of the P9 trillion to irregularities means a whopping P1.8 trillion lost to corruption,” he said at an open forum with members of the Rotary Club of Makati Central.

Earlier, the government said it has earmarked over P9 trillion for its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Lacson also warned the loss could be more than P1.8 trillion, as some contractors deem 20 percent a small amount that may be demanded by corrupt officials.

On the other hand, Lacson said he will participate actively in hearings on the proposed budget for 2018, once it is submitted to Congress.

“The budget call has already been terminated. And soon after the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24 when Congress resumes session … within 30 days he will have to submit the so-called President’s Budget. And I have been always active in participating in plenary debates, even in committee hearings,” he said.

Last year, Lacson discovered billions of pesos in pork-like insertions in the budget for 2017. This included some P8.3 billion in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget for projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

After Lacson exposed the P8.3-billion pork and stood his ground, senators agreed to realign the funds to free tuition for state colleges and universities.