MANILA -- Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday claimed that opposition lawmakers and other targeted legislators in the House of Representatives have "zero allocations" under the 2018 General Appropriations Act.
In a statement, Lagman said the zero allocations are projected to punish and silence opposition legislators even as it is their constituencies who are deprived of the benefits of infrastructure development.
"Steadfast critical dissent and perceived 'waywardness' have left the respective constituencies of two-dozen solons destitute of infrastructure projects under the 2018 General Appropriations Act," Lagman said.
Why punish citizens and communities for the earnest and valiant efforts of their Representatives to maintain responsible dissent as the bedrock of democracy? he added.
Lagman said among the lawmakers who suffered zero allocations include himself as well as his co-members in the independent bloc, Magnificent 7.
Other members of the Magnificent 7 bloc include Representatives Tom Villarin, Gary Alejano, Edgar Erice, Teddy Baguilat, Raul Daza, and Emmanuel Billones.
Lagman explained that the great majority of the deleted appropriations are not for so-called "pet projects" but for essential infrastructures intended for congressional districts in the 2018 National Infrastructure Program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Build, Build, Build scheme.
These infrastructure projects were included upon submission by DPWH in the National Expenditure Program, which the annual General Appropriations Bill is based.
Lagman said these projects were "surreptitiously deleted" during the bicameral conference on the national budget reportedly upon instructions of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
When asked about the scrapped funding, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, appropriations chairman and head of the House bicameral panel, replied: ask Speaker Alvarez.
"What would be adversely affected are the construction of roads and bridges; highways leading to tourism destinations; diversion roads to decongest traffic; flood protection like dikes and seawalls; and public buildings," Lagman said.
"What is worse is that highways and bridges for completion in 2018 would be left hanging and unfinished," he added.
He also said majority of the shelved infrastructure projects had already been bid out pursuant to government's advance bidding schedule pending approval of the GAA.
Source: Philippine News Agency