Flood control projects now new cash cows

December 17, 2018 05:36am

Marlon Ramos


Corrupt public officials may have found a new cash cow in the government's flood control projects, which soared to an unprecedented P133 billion in the current national spending program, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said on Sunday.

Andaya said a town mayor from Bicol region had informed him that a former member of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet, who resigned to run for public office, had facilitated the "parking" of P300 million for a flood mitigation project in his municipality.

New modus operandi

He claimed that a number of Bicol mayors had also signified their intention to speak up on the new modus operandi.

"The mayor, who requested not to be named, disclosed that the [former] Cabinet member 'parked' the allocation in flood mitigation projects for the region," Andaya said in a statement.

"Anytime, the funds would be supposedly released. There had been site visitations already," he said.

"The mayor approached me because it's only now that they realized what's happening. They agreed to the 'parking scheme' believing that their constituents would also benefit from the projects."

In the draft P3.8-trillion national budget for next year, Andaya said P114.4 billion was earmarked for flood control programs, almost a quarter of the proposed P544.5-billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Of the President's erstwhile Cabinet members, sacked presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino will run in the 2019 midterm elections.

Also seeking elective posts are former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Guiling Mamondiong.

As in the pork barrel scam, Andaya claimed that the new racket was "facilitated" by the Department of Budget and Management.

Huge spike

"The parking scheme ... may eventually explain the huge spike allocated to flood mitigation projects from 2017 to 2018," he said.

"From P79 billion in 2017, the budget for flood mitigation projects [this year] ballooned to a whopping P133 billion. That means P54 billion was added to these funds," Andaya noted.

According to Andaya, many of the flood control projects were not listed in the original budget request of the DPWH, which only amounted to P488 billion.

Even House members were not aware of these multibillion-peso projects in their legislative districts, he added.

"It seems that these flood control projects were not approved by the DPWH central office. They were clueless," Andaya said.