UNLESS a faster means to access state funds is devised, the local government of Mambulao would have to brace itself for projected delays in its infrastructure and socio-economic programs in 2014.
And surely, with a very minimal allocation from Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla’s usual funding sources that included a handful of friendly senators and congressmen, the LGU’s development program is bound to suffer a stroke.
We could now assume that the biggest casualty among the LGU’s pet project is its baranggay road cementing project.
From a moderate speed that the road project is being carried out to these days, it is expected to slow down, or may even ground to a halt, next year.
The trickle of development funds for Mambulao from the scandal-tainted pork barrel is, finally, going to dry up.
On the wee hours of Saturday, September 28, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill No 2630 on next year’s P2.268 trillion national budget.
In so doing, the chamber formally scrapped P25.2 billion worth of pork barrel, or the scandal-soaked PDAF, aka the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Congressmen also removed Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s own P200 million allocation.
Now out of the country’s lawmakers’ hands and control, the aggregate amount of P25.25.4 billion was then allocated to six key agencies.
As expected, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) got the biggest slice of P9.654 billion.
Unlike before when congressmen decided where their pork barrel money should go and how much, the new state funding regime has only allowed them to propose pet projects.
Here, they could name only five infrastructure projects, to be carried out by the DPWH.
And each one could only access a budget ceiling of just P24.5 million for all the projects.
In light of this new scenario, how would Padilla’s road cementing project fare?
During the past 38 months of his governance, with the last two months ushering in his second term as mayor, Padilla received modest funding from lawmakers, who included senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Chiz Escudero and Teofisto “TG” Guingona and congressmen from CamNorte.
This money, which was sourced from the lawmakers’ pork barrel allocations, mostly went into the concreting of the municipality’s baranggay roads.
Other substantial amount, although not in millions, went to socio-economic projects such as deep well pumps, baranggay halls, health care centers, classrooms, so on and so forth.
Very recent of such projects to get pork was the 2km San Pedro-Baranggay Silang Dos (Labo town) concrete road that would connect Mambulao to the Maharlika Highway, one that would serve as a diversion road in future.
The funding came from Enrile and estimated between P15 million and P20 million.
Of course, Mambulao also received a windfall of pork that also funded various projects in its 27 baranggays from the office of the Provincial Governor Edgardo “Egay” Tallado.
The provincial capitol has claimed that the governor poured into Mambulao a total of P159.5 million in so called development initiatives.
Most of the provincial government development funding for Mambulao during the years 2011 to the present came from the pork barrel allocations of the Office of the President, specifically the Office of the Presidential Affairs on Peace Process (OPAPP), Enrile and other lawmakers, and money from the General Appropriations Act, through the Agrarian reform Community Projects (ARC), National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Department of Health,
Since state funds would no longer be accessed directly from the congressman who covers Mambulao and the rest of the Tagalog-speaking district towns of Paracale, Labo, Santa Elena and Capalonga, it is safely assumed that there would be delays in securing such development funding caused by the bureaucratic grinder.
For instance, funding for road projects has been “centralized” with the DPWH at the head office.
And with 1,491 municipalities and 142 cities wanting to have their roads improved or built, this department would be overwhelmed by direct funding requests from across the country.
And with the five towns in the CamNorte’s first district trying to jockey for infrastructure funding from Congresswoman Cathy Barcelona Reyes, who got only P24.5 million in next year’s state funds allocation, each municipality would have only an average of P4.9 million.
This, if Reyes decides to hand out the money to them equally.
And P4.9 million won’t build a kilometer of cement road.
Under the new rules, Reyes is allowed only to propose five “infrastructure” projects with a total funding of just P24.5 million.
If Padilla is not a friend of the congresswoman, chances are he would have to settle for crumbs that would instead go to other projects with lesser funding requirements.
And unless he is fast enough to get a friendly conduit to access funding for his road projects from the DPWH, he would have to go through the usual red tape that could keep money out of his reach for months.
And this is bad for Mambulao.
This is bad for Mambulaoans, too, who, until now, are still trying to make of the future ahead of them: will development and progress finally come?
The entire Filipino people are crying for the scrapping of the pork barrel that was made notoriously bad by the systematic stealing of more than P10 billion in people’s money involving at least five popular senators along with several congressmen and a private businesswoman named Janet Napoles.
This end has come finally, courtesy of the House of Representatives, whose members decided with finality to banish the pork barrel for good.
It will begin next year.
And next year is also the start of Padilla’s new headaches in making both ends meet to complete his baranggay road cementing project.
Obviously, pork barrel money would be sourly missed in Mambulao
But this could not be helped. A new beginning for a change in the way our government deals with the people’s money has to start somewhere.
This could be it.
- Alfredo P Hernandez
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