Allies of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who were members of the bicameral conference committee for the 2020 budget are reportedly behind the delay in the implementation of the national identification system.
Politiko learned that the pilot rollout of the National ID System program has suffered a huge setback this year after Cayetano’s allies in the House bicam delegation, particularly Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte (Camarines Sur) and House Blue Ribbon Committee chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado (Bulacan), allegedly initiated an amendment that caused the program’s original allocation to be slashed by almost 59 percent.
A reliable congressional insider who requested anonymity said it was Villafuerte and Alvarado who suggested to realign P1.435-billion in the P2.435-billion program to other various infrastructure projects in the legislative districts of selected congressmen.
Following the realignment, only P1 billion has supposedly been allotted by Congress for the maiden implementation of the National ID System—one of the key programs of the Duterte administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during his public address last Monday, blamed members the “left” for the absence of a national ID system—which the chief executive believed could have solved various problems in the distribution of the financial and relief aid under the government’s social amelioration program due to the extended Luzon lockdown brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Politiko earlier obtained a copy of the ratified bicameral conference committee report for the P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2020, wherein it included portions for the realignment allegedly by Cayetano’s top allies.
“Delete the amount in words and figures ‘Two Billion Four Hundred Fifty-Three Million Eight Hundred Fifty-Three Thousand Pesos (P2,435,853,000)’ in lieu thereof insert the amount in words and in figures One Billion Pesos (P1,000,000,000),” the amendment read.
The realigned funds reportedly became part of the more than P80-billion worth of infra projects classified by Budget Sec. Wendel Avisado as “For Later Release” last February—which are allegedly “midnight insertions” according to former House committee on appropriations chair Isidro Ungab (Davao City).
The same source said Ungab was kept in dark by Cayetano’s lackeys, particularly Villafuerte which was confirmed by an earlier interview of Mindoro Oriental Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) last February.
“The (entire) staff of the appropriations panel were prohibited to deal with Chairman Ungab but only to Cong. LRay during bicam,” said Leachon who is a member of the House bicam delegation.