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‘Young Guns’ air concern over costly Senate building

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Members of the “Young Guns” in the House of Representatives have raised serious concerns about the escalating cost and potential waste of public funds related to the construction of the new Senate Building in Taguig City.

These lawmakers are supporting the suspension of the project pending a comprehensive review.

The decision to suspend the construction came after a report from the Senate Committee on Accounts (CA), which Senator Alan Peter Cayetano currently chairs, pointed to the rising costs of the NSB project, with the projected cost of an additional P10 billion to complete the building.

Initially funded at P8.9 billion, the cost of the project has now ballooned to P13 billion, with an additional P10 billion required for completion, bringing the total to P23 billion. The dramatic increase in expenditure has raised serious concerns about the responsible use of taxpayer money.

1-Rider Party-list Rep. Rodge Gutierrez underscored the importance of accountability in government spending.

“It is only prudent to scrutinize projects involving public funds. We owe it to our constituents to ensure that every peso is spent wisely and effectively,” he stated.

“This project is a prime example of why stringent checks and balances are essential. The significant cost overrun calls for a reassessment to protect our nation’s fiscal health,” Gutierrez added.

Another lawmaker, House Assistant Majority Leader and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Jil Bongalon, stressed the need for transparency.

“It is crucial that we uphold public trust in all our infrastructure projects. Every centavo must be accounted for to prevent misuse of funds,” Bongalon said.

Amid concerns about the project’s costs, Assistant Majority Leader and Zambales 1st District Rep. Jay Khonghun emphasized the necessity of a thorough estimation.

“Delaying the project for a comprehensive review is a responsible decision. We must address any concerns, and ensure the project aligns with the best interests of the Filipino people,” Khonghun said.

“Public infrastructure projects should reflect prudent financial management. We must halt this project until a clear and transparent review can guarantee that the funds are used appropriately and for the benefit of all Filipinos,” he added.

Assistant Majority Leader and La Union 1st District Rep. Paolo Ortega echoed these sentiments.

“Suspending the release of funds is a necessary step to prevent potential issues and ensure the new Senate building project meets the highest standards of efficiency and accountability,” he stated.

Ortega added that “When public funds are misallocated, it undermines trust in our institutions and hampers our ability to address other critical needs. This situation demands immediate attention and corrective action.”

As for the Senate’s side, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday emphasized that the recent budgetary concerns surrounding the new Senate building (NSB) are part of an ongoing factual and independent review and should not give rise to unwarranted speculation.

“The goal is to have the best functional and iconic Senate building that will be a symbol of the democratic process of the will of the Filipino people, at the best quality at the right cost,” Cayetano said

This came about shortly after Senate President Francis Escudero ordered to suspend the construction of the NSB, citing concerns over escalating costs and the need for a comprehensive review.

Cayetano said a series of briefings with relevant stakeholders, including teams from former CA chairpersons Senator Nancy Binay and former Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, were conducted to provide a “clear view” on the matter.

This resulted in an executive summary of the initial review and recommendations which were presented to Escudero.

“These are not speculations, these are all official. We have reports and documents,” he said.

“The start was good, but all those who saw the costs were surprised,” he said.

Despite the concerns raised, Cayetano argued that the construction of the current phase of NSB should continue during the review process, and the third phase, which has not yet undergone procurement, may be delayed if necessary.

Cayetano, however, urged the public not to speculate. The senator gave assurance that his committee, along with a high-level coordination team, will independently continue their thorough review of the project.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline: “‘Young Guns’ condemn wasteful spending on new Senate Building”


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