MANILA - The government needs to focus on its infrastructure projects instead of granting emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to manage underspending, a senator said Thursday.
Sen. Franklin Drilon made the remark after Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he would file a measure seeking "emergency powers" for Duterte to roll out his "Build, Build, Build" program faster.
"Hindi na po kailangan ang emergency power, siguro emergency attention. Tutok lang. Pag emergency, maraming diskumpiyado d'yan kung ano ang mangyayari," Drilon told radio DZMM.
(We don't need emergency power, maybe emergency attention. Just pay attention. If we grant emergency powers, many don't trust what will happen.)
"May sapat na pondo, may sapat reglamento on the ground para mapabilisan ang trabaho ng mga proyekto."
(We have enough funds, we have enough regulations on the ground to fast track projects.)
Citing data from state auditors, Drilon said government's spending contributes 20 percent to the country's economy.
Drilon earlier called government's infrastructure program a "dismal failure," with only 9 out of 75 projects that have started construction.
Last week, government expanded its infra push to 100 projects to focus on more "feasible" ones.
"Yung plano di naman 'yan nakakapagbigay ng trabaho (Plans don't give jobs), it is in the executive institution, the implementation," he said.
"Kahit P1 billion ang project mo, kung 'yan ay plano pa lang, wala pong epekto 'yan sa pagbigay ng trabaho. Maganda lang sa papel."
(Even if you have a P1 billion project, if it remains a plan, it does not have any effect in generating jobs. It just looks good on paper.)
Drilon said state agencies should follow the cash-based budgeting system, which allows funds to be disbursed within the fiscal year and if unused it will go back to the Bureau of Treasury.
The senator said the chief of the Department of Budget Management told him that he himself was frustrated with government agencies' slow spending of funds.
"Sinabi pa nga niya out of exasperation, one of these days, ang Pangulo na mismo ang papipirmahin ko ng memo na nag-uutos sa mga Cabinet members na bilisan ang kanilang execution," Drilon said.
(He said out of of exasperation, one of these days, I will get the President's signature on a memo ordering Cabinet members to expedite their execution of projects.)
The Senate will likely pass next year's spending plan by end of November, Drilon said.
"Wala pong problema (There's no problem), we will finish the budget on time," he said.