There are several worthwhile programs that could use the P75 billion deleted from the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways - such as slope protection for key roads in Northern Luzon, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
"If my other colleagues will allow ... we might give part of the P75 billion to the DPWH for slope protection work in Cordillera," he said.
But Lacson said the bottom line is that the realignment of the amount to other items in the P3.7-trillion budget for 2019 should not be a case of "pork to pork."
"We will look for programs that need funding. But for me, the bottom line is that the 'transfer' of the P75 billion should not be from pork to pork," he added.
Lacson is considering realigning at least part of the P75 billion for slope protection for roads in the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay), which become impassable when landslides occur.
But he pointed out the DPWH must consult with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and other agencies, and make sure its computations are not bloated.
"We will not allow bloated estimates similar to that in Nueva Ecija, where the DPWH spent P44,000 per square meter for slope protection when civil engineers calculate the cost to be just P28,000 per square meter," he said.
On Monday, Lacson questioned the "insertion" of P75 billion into the DPWH's proposed budget ceiling for 2019.
He noted that while the Development Budget Coordination Committee set a P480-billion budget ceiling for the DPWH during the preparation stage for the 2019 budget, P75 billion was added to the amount.
Senate finance committee chairperson Loren Legarda said the P75-billion addition was not the initiative of the DPWH, even as DPWH Secretary Mark Villar he was initially not aware of the P75-billion "insertion."
"The DPWH did not know P75 billion worth of projects had been added. There is a budget, but no list of projects to implement. How do you implement something you did not plan?" Lacson said during his interpellation on Monday.