THE poorest regions and provinces will be the priorities of the Duterte administration for its infrastructure programs.
This was assured by Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, as he defended the 2018 proposed budget of the agency amounting to P642 billion, during deliberation of the House committee on appropriations.
“We try to be equitable as much as possible, but of course there are many considerations… But rest assured, we always endeavor to try to give as much emphasis as possible. The objective is to bring progress in poorest areas,” Villar said.
During the hearing, Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate asked Villar about the agency’s plan for the poorest regions under the Build Build Build program.
Zarate expressed disappointment over the small allotment for poorer regions and provinces.
“Kung titingnan ang prioritization niyo dito, napakaliit ng nakukuhang budget ng mga pinakamahirap na rehiyon,” Zarate said, adding the government is only considering the welfare of big businessmen and giant corporations.
Responding to Zarate, Villar said the department is trying to be equitable in allocating the budget among the districts of lawmakers in each region and province, especially in the poorest areas.
“I think individually, each congressman in each region and district we identified, kung ano yung mga projects consistent with the national program of the DPWH and this is what we fund,” Villar said.
Next year’s budget of DPWH is higher than this year’s budget of P454.7 billion.
Based on the regional expenditures, the five regions with the lowest allocation in terms of infrastructure are: Cordillera Administrative Region (P6.5 billion), Zamboanga Peninsula (P7.7 billion), Soccsksargen (P7.78 billion), Caraga (P7.88 billion), Cagayan Valley (P8.6 billion), and Mimaropa (P9.09 billion).
Meanwhile, the highest allocation went to the National Capital Region with P25.09 billion, followed by Calabarzon with P20.16 billion, Central Luzon with P19.28 billion, and Bicol region with P15.85 billion.
In a related story, chairman of the committee Davao City Karlo Nograles said Congress is committed to ensuring the availability of funds to support President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program through the DPWH.
Nograles noted that with at least P8 trillion in public works funds being eyed to be spent from 2017 to 2022, the Philippines is expected to fully modernize its infrastructure such as road networks, mass transport facilities, flood control systems, educational facilities, tourism hubs and other focus areas of the DPWH in line with its “Build Build Build” program.
He noted that after so many years of being left with crumbs, Mindanao is finally getting its fair share of infrastructure funds with a total allocation of P174.130 billion for 2018.
This represents 33% of the total public works spending programmed by the DPWH.