President to maximize powers for ‘Build, Build, Build’
By ROGER M. BALANZA with PNA report
Due to time constraints, Malacanang is not keen on supporting a House bill granting special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte in adopting a “national policy” in fast-tracking the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” program on or before 2022.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the proposed measure is “no longer a priority legislative agenda” of Duterte, considering the time constraint.
House Bill 5456 was filed on Wednesday, November 13, by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda after Senator Franklin Drilon described as a “dismal failure” the implementation of projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
The Duterte government has alloted PHP9 trillion for the implementation of around 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects and over 10,000 small infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Even without special powers, the President can still fast-track implementation of the projects, said Panelo.
President Rodrigo Duterte will maximize the use of his “available” powers to ensure the full and effective implementation of his administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, Panelo said on Saturday, November 16.
“The President will implement and maximize what is presently available under our laws for this purpose,” Panelo adds.
Earlier, Panelo said he considered as a “good idea” the proposal by Rep. Salceda to grant emergency powers to Duterte to speed up the implementation of the current administration’s infrastructure program.
“While we respect the wisdom of Congress and laud the gentleman from Albay in seeing the importance of this flagship infrastructure program of the current government, we consider this proposed measure belated and no longer a priority legislative agenda of the President, given that we only have less than three years left in office,” he said.
Panelo noted that there was progress in the implementation of the infrastructure program, citing the figures recently released by Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon who also serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects.
Around 38 out of the revised list of 100 key infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by 2022, while 22 are “partially operational or substantially completed” and the remaining 40 would be finished “beyond 2022,” Dizon said in a Palace economic briefing on Wednesday.
Dizon also noted that 35 flagship infrastructure projects are ongoing, 32 will commence construction in the next six to eight months, 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval, and 12 in the advanced stages of a feasibility study.
Panelo was confident that all infrastructure projects “will be started within the governance of this Administration.”
“One of the inherent powers of the State is the power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings there for to acquire private property for public use,” he said.
“This power is particularly essential in securing rights of way, an issue that hampered the construction of vital infrastructure. The current agencies involved in the infrastructure program are presently utilizing this process,” Panelo added.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said that the P100 million that each lawmaker at the House of Representatives will be receiving PHP100 million under the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 is not “pork barrel.”
Salceda said that these were not classified as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional in 2013.
In the previous administration, PDAF erupted into a full-blown scandal involving senators and congressmen alleged to have received huge kickbacks from PDAF-funded projects implemented by scam queen Janet Lim.
Each lawmaker at the House of Representatives will be receiving PHP100 million under the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, Salceda said Wednesday.
Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, bared that of the amount, PHP70 million will be allocated for hard projects, such as infrastructure, while PHP30 million will be used for soft projects, such as medical assistance.
Asked if there were any allocations for congressmen, Salceda said: “Of course there are allocations for my constituents.”
“To ensure everybody has some minimum, PHP100 (million), yes. But that’s basically PHP70 million of infrastructure and they were itemized in the NEP (National Expenditure Program) and there is no such thing as non-itemized expenditure there,” Salceda said during the weekly economic media briefing in Malacañang.
Salceda said the PHP100 million was determined by the executive branch.
He also assured that the proposed 2020 national budget would be pork-free.
“It’s free of pork based on Supreme Court standards. And the mere fact that there are new insertions… as is, where is,” Salceda later said in a media interview.
He said it is free from pork because there are no individual amendments or alignments made to the proposed budget unlike previous years.
“There are no individual amendments, there are only three institutional amendments,” Salceda said, namely amendments to develop the education, health sectors, Camp Aguinaldo and other sectors.
“It also smells, acts, quacks like a need of my constituents and it also smells, acts, quacks as if it’s allowed by the Supreme Court,” he added.
The House of Representatives is composed of 299 districts and party-list representatives.
Duterte allies working
Salceda, meanwhile, bared that the House will approve the proposed 2020 national budget on second reading on Friday (Sept. 20) and approve it on third and final reading by next week.
“So the 2020 budget, I’m sure will be approved by September 20. The earliest approved budget at the House in history,” Salceda said.
“We will approve on second reading on Friday. Parehas lang, wala nang magbabago (It’s the same, nothing changes) after second reading. Yung third reading nominal voting na yun (On the third reading, we’ll do nominal voting),” he added.
Salceda expressed hope that the Senate would also follow the House’s footsteps by passing the proposed budget as early as possible, to prove that the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte are working.
“We just wanna prove that the ‘Duterte Super Coalition’ in the House is working, and I hope the so-called ‘Duterte Super Coalition of 20’ in the Senate will do the same,” he added.
In a separate media interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that the President will veto the proposed budget should there be provisions he finds “unconstitutional.”
“Antayin natin pag sinubmit na kay Presidente (Let’s wait for it to be submitted to the President) then the President will decide if it is pork or not. He will veto it if it is against the Constitution,” Panelo said. (PNA)
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda dumps a fellow Bicolano to support the vice presidential bid of another in Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Salceda, a member of the administration’s Liberal Party (LP), had endorsed the presidential bid of former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
However, Salceda announced that he was withdrawing his support for Roxas to back Sen. Grace Poe.
READ: Albay gov dumps Mar for Grace
Escudero said: “I am eternally grateful for his endorsement of my candidacy as well as that of Grace.”
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