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Lumolobo na! Ping bares questionable items in 2021 budget now amount to half a trillion – and counting

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A whopping half-trillion pesos and counting! This was the worth of the questionable items Sen. Panfilo Lacson has so far uncovered in the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways for 2021.

But Lacson, who bared this Monday, also indicated such a huge amount could be excised from the P4.5-trillion budget for 2021.

While Lacson initially bared last week that they found P469 billion in questionable items involving 2,933 items worth at least P73.5 billion and lump sums involving P P396.4 billion, he said the list has “ballooned” to P135.8 billion involving 5,913 projects – effectively increasing the total questionable appropriations to P532.3 billion.

“In our continuing efforts to scrutinize the 2021 National Expenditure Program, particularly on the issue of ‘re-appropriations’ and ‘lump sum appropriations’ involving infrastructure projects under the DPWH, we have found that the initial amount of P73.5 billion covering 2,933 items has now ballooned to P135.8 billion involving 5,913 projects – thus effectively increasing the total questionable appropriations to P532.3 billion from the initial P469 billion that we exposed earlier, including lump sums in the amount of P396.4 billion,” he said in a statement.

“Considering the projects under ‘Operations’ in the proposed budget of the DPWH has total appropriations of P613.1 billion, easily 87 percent or P532.3 billion is deemed questionable,” he added.

Lacson said a legal question now needs to be addressed as lawmakers progress in their plenary budget deliberations.

“Will this kind of ‘errata’ be allowed by the Senate, or Congress for that matter, if the items to be rectified do not involve simple typographical errors or other similar minor errors like interchanged or misplaced items in the NEP?” he asked.

“Therefore, if my colleagues will not allow such major rectification, we may see a 2021 GAA that is reduced by more than half a trillion pesos,” he added.

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