Former Speaker and Davao del Norte First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has mixed feelings about the reported P5 billion allocated for his district’s infrastructure projects in the proposed 2019 national budget.
“When I learned about that (allocation), I didn’t know whether to laugh or to get mad because the incumbent leadership is the one responsible for any budget insertions. Why is that when Malacanang asked them (lawmakers) to explain, they are pointing their fingers at us? It’s not right,” Alvarez said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
At the same time, Alvarez welcomed the allocation for his district.
“If that is true, then I should say Merry Christmas,” he said.
Alvarez issued the remarks after House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. revealed that the former’s district allocation is among the insertions in the 2019 budget giving the impression the former speaker had a hand in inserting the amount.
According to Alvarez, he has no clout to influence the budget hearing as a regular member of the House and has not attended any budget hearing because he stayed in his district to meet with his constituents about their needs.
“In fact, after the SONA (State of the Nation Address) I have not been to Congress. I have never attended a single budget hearing. I stayed in my district to go rounds of the barangays and hear their concern, which I was not able to do when I was a Speaker,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez added he has not seen the National Expenditure Program (NEP) and has no knowledge of how much is allocated for his district.
NEP contains the government’s program to assist Congress in reviewing and deliberating on the proposed national budget. It is formulated by the Executive Department and forwarded to the House for deliberation. Congress has no participation in its preparation.
“That’s when the current leadership made budget cuts in the NEP and made insertions based on their own priorities. We have no involvement at all in that process,” said Alvarez.