THE incoming Duterte administration will be taking over with only 16 percent or P496 billion of the P3.002-trillion national budget to work with after its predecessor went on a “rushed spending binge,” leaving the new government little room to pursue its priority programs, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Monday.
Binay said the rushed spending during the Aquino administration’s last months in office would affect Duterte’s ability to pursue his priorities.
“The Aquino administration’s mad rush to spend during the election season has left the incoming administration of… Rodrigo Duterte little room to work on during its first year,” Binay spokesperson Rico Quicho said.
“After years of underspending, the administration decided to go on a spending binge obviously to swing voters to favor its chosen one but to no avail. Such recklessness will have as its casualty the priorities of the incoming administration,” Quicho said.
Binay’s office said the Department of Budget and Management has released P2.5 trillion or almost 84 percent of the P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016.
But Budget Secretary Florencio Abad denied the allegation.
“If you say 84 percent has been released, does that mean it has all been spent? Of course not,” Abad said. “What has been released is the allotment or authority to obligate or bid out projects. Why was it done so quickly? Because now we don’t have a SARO [special allotment release order] that must first be issued because the General Appropriations Act itself is the release document. We did this to speed up the budget execution and remove the problem of underspending.”
Abad said it was the DBM’s duty to “release the allotment” and that the next process was the obligation of allotment” that was the job of the line agencies.
Under this process, he said, the period of bidding and procurement take place.
Binay’s camp previously criticized the Aquino administration’s anemic spending, especially for programs and projects to mitigate the impact of El Niño.
In the 2016 national budget, P19 billion has been allotted for subsidies, alternative livelihood projects, irrigation and other assistance projects for farmers affected by drought.
However, Quicho said Abad refused to release in March the P900 million to the Department of Agriculture for projects intended to mitigate the effects of El Niño.
Quicho said the government’s withholding of the fund led to a bloody and tragic outcome, with two people killed and more than 30 farmers injured during a protest rally in Kidapawan City in April.
Quicho also slammed Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s claim that the agency provided seedlings to farmers.
“Our farmers have been starving since December last year. How Secretary Alcala could expect them to plant the seedlings when they are already dying of hunger is beyond me,” he said.
A federation of 60 non-government organizations, meanwhile, appealed to the Aquino administration to come out with complete and detailed explanations on the P1.3-trillion potential state obligations which it did not disclose to the public.
The Balikatan People’s Alliance noted that the potential state obligations were discovered by the Commission on Audit in 2013 but to date, no detailed breakdown has been reported by the government.
Balikatan spokesman Arsenio Antiporda said the non-disclosure even ran counter to Section 7, Article III and Section 28, Article II of the Constitution, which recognizes the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.
Antiporda said. according to CoA, the government had only declared P470.81 billion in contingent liabilities.
“But an audit later revealed undisclosed contingent liabilities totaling P1,030,485,094,220.42. Among these liabilities are P920.284 billion in projects under the Public-Private Partnership program of the government and outstanding guarantees issued by the government and Development Bank of the Philippines) totaling P32.3 billion.
“The COA report listed several of the projects like: 38 power projects (27 completed and 11 ongoing) by the National Power Corp. and Philippine National Oil Corporation-Energy Development Corporation totaling $8.701 billion; 10 transport and road projects totaling $3.503 billion, including MRT Line 7 ($1.235 billion); Daang Hari-SLEX Link ($43.5 million), and the Tarlac-La Union Toll Expressway Project ($35 million) and five water supply projects by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
“So where are these projects? How many have been finished and how many are still pending? Who are the beneficiaries? Where are the papers of the expenditures?” Antiporda asked,
Until a detailed explanation with supporting papers are made on the P1.3 trillion, Antiporda said the people will have no proof that all the transactions for it are legal and fraud-free.