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Fundraising ‘yan! Castro accuses Cayetano, allies of building ‘electoral war chest’ for 2022 via P1.5T CURES bill

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Assistant Minority Floor Leader France Castro has accused Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies of planning to create an “electoral war chest” following the House approval of the P1.5-trillion COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Bill.

In her explanation of her negative vote following third-reading approval of the CURES Bill under House Bill No. 6709 on Friday, Castro said the proposed legislation will only encourage “political patronage” and could a mere fundraising operation in disguise by the proponents of the measure for the upcoming national elections.

“Political patronage, electoral war chest patungong 2022—hindi sa job creation, hindi pagtugon sa krisis buhat ng COVID-19… with all these flaws, the CURES bill will be worse than the disease. I therefore vote no,” said Castro.

The CURES Bill which is principally sponsored by Cayetano and Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte is geared towards spearheading sustainable jobs that will provide employment and income-earning opportunities in areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

HB 6709 provides a P1.5-trillion fund anchored on the principle that “government spending on infrastructure is a vehicle towards economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The House-approved measure is programmed on construction of government-operated health facilities in barangays, municipalities, cities, and provinces heavily affected by the Luzon lockdown after two-months of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

But Castro warned that CURES Bill, once enacted into law will only “pave the way for a scandal ten times worse than the Napoles scam” considering that there are no specific line item programs provided in the measure.

“Tila pumipirma tayo ng isang blankong tseke na ihahandog sa pangulo para sa isang spending spree sa kung anong mga proyektong nanaisin niya. At dahil pork barrel, saan mapupunta ang 1.5 trillion?” Castro asked.

By reading the entire provisions of HB 6709, Castro stressed it can’t be denied that the measure is actually a trillion-peso “Pork Barrel Funds” and considering that the program is in the form of a lump sum allocation.

“Walang laman ang bill kundi halos blangkong awtorisasyon upang gastusin ang napakalaking tipak na pondo ng bayan,” said Castro.

“Bibigyan natin ang administrasyon ng 1.5 trillion pesos sa loob ng tatlong taon—walang limitasyon bukod sa malawak na menu of projects, na ipaiilalim sa diskresyon ng makapangyarihang CURES Executive Cluster Committee,” she added.

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