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Dapat DOT humawak! Locsin sees ‘recipe for stealing’ as House realigns P10-B in Bayanihan 2 to TIEZA

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. believes the House of Representatives is up to no good by allocating P10 billion intended for the recovery of the tourism industry to infrastructure projects.

Locsin on Thursday (August 13) threw his support behind the appeal of Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to give the Department of Tourism P10 billion under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

The Senate’s version of the bill allotted P10 billion to DOT to help struggling tourism businesses but the House amended it to put the funds under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

“Rodriguez appeals to Bayanihan 2 bicam: Give P10-B tourism aid to DOT, not TIEZA via @gmanews. You’re so right, Rufus. It should go to the Department of Tourism to revive the jobs lost. Putting it in infrastructure is a recipe for stealing,” Locsin tweeted.

Philippine Star columnist Boo Chanco said congressmen “obviously” realigned the P10 billion for DOT so they can have access to pork barrel funds. Infrastructure projects have long been known to be a source of pork barrel funds, with enterprising politikos getting a cut from winning contractors

“There is no need for additional tourism infrastructure at this time. The tourism industry asked for loans to be administered by GFIs to help them keep their businesses going. Obviously, the congressmen are eyeing potential pork funds embedded in TIEZA infrastructure projects,” Chanco said in his August 13 column.

Adding suspicion about the congressmen’s motive in realigning the tourism fund is TIEZA’s poor track record.

“Interestingly, TIEZA has a poor record in implementing projects, prompting Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez to realign P12 billion unspent TIEZA funds for COVID assistance back in March,” Chanco said.

Manila Times columnist Maribel Ongpin also sees the desire for pork barrel funds as the reason why the House realigned the P10-billion stimulus fund from DOT to TIEZA.

“Tieza did not solicit it. Tieza, in fact, is known to have adequate funds for its tasks. So, what is going on? Critics, analysts and legislature-watchers have come to a consensus that it is nothing but ‘pork,’ as in pork barrel. Pork for congressmen and we do not need to wonder how or why and who will benefit from that windfall in waiting. We already know,” she said.

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