Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, vice-chair of the Senate finance committee, said that the 2008 budget was allegedly bloated by P11.5 billion for public works projects, which were secretly inserted by means of so-called “congressional insertions.”
MIRIAM BARES P 11.5 B SECRET PORK
“The life of an appropriation is two years. In 2009, President Arroyo may release these P11.5 billion insertions. By 2010, each project may continue to be implemented. Hence, I strongly suspect that most of these secret projects are going to be used by incumbent legislators for the 2010 elections,” she said.
Santiago also said that among the congressional insertions, P 7.9 billion are large lump-sum appropriations.
“The question is who will determine which project will be funded out of the two lump-sum funds. They should be subjected to the usual social benefit-cost analysis. This could be a standing invitation to corruption,” she said.
Santiago slammed certain projects allegedly initiated by individual legislators, although they have “low economic return.”
“The most glaring low-priority project is the construction of so-called multipurpose buildings, which reached a total of P131.1 million,” she said.
Santiago also hit individual legislators who initiated certain projects that she said “should be better done by local governments or government-owned corporations, like the Local Water Utilities Administration.”
Among these “rich potentials for kickbacks” that she cited are public markets in: Tabaco City ; San Vicente, Ilocos Sur; Arayat, Pampanga; and Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur.
“There is even a lump-sum appropriation of P165 million for Other Buildings. These are projects that have not even been identified yet. Since it is a lump sum, it is most likely subject to abuse,” she said.
Santiago said that certain projects which are best done through the Local Water Utilities Administration, but which are included in the 2008 budget are the water systems in: Pangasinan, fifth district; Bataan, second district; Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; Negros Oriental, first district; Negros Oriental, third district; Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur; and South Cotabato, second district.