On the allegation that the DBM adjusted the DPWH budget without the latter’s knowledge
The original budget request of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its budget in 2019 was PhP 652 billion. Initially, PhP 480.2 billion was approved but PhP 75.5 billion was added later to bring the total DPWH budget to PhP 555.7 billion. This is in order to meet the infrastructure spending target of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) at 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
No less than DPWH undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral admitted this as being part of the budget preparation process on the February 8, Friday hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The DPWH budget of PhP 555.7 billion was then presented to the Cabinet and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte in the Cabinet meeting held on July 9, 2018.
On the allegation that the PhP 100-billion payables of the DPWH restored the “kickback system”
Allegations that the “kickback system” has been restored is mere speculation and is beyond the mandate of the DBM. We reiterate that the DBM only releases spending authority and notice of cash allocation (NCA). Implementing agencies are the ones who engage contractors, through open and competitive bidding, for delivery and payment of goods/services.
With regard to the cash requirements of the DPWH to respond to claims and billings of contracts, the DBM has already released funds to cover its full-year cash requirements, including payments for due and demandable obligations in fiscal year 2018. This is reflected in the actual disbursement releases of the DPWH in 2018 amounting to PhP 560.4 billion.
The original disbursement program of the DPWH was only PhP 516 billion, before submitting an additional request of PhP 44.4 billion in cash allocations in September 2018. This put their 2018 disbursement program at PhP 560.4 billion, which the DBM already released in full.
As a guide to implementing agencies, the DBM issued Circular Letter No. 14 series of 2017 on Cash Planning Reports to remind all departments, especially the top ten spending agencies, to be more prudent in the planning of their monthly disbursement programs ahead of time.
They are encouraged to broaden the monitoring of the implementation of and payment for the services provided by their contractors. The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) and DBM have already started assisting the DPWH in its cash planning and forecasting operations.
On the malicious imputations against the DBM
The DBM condemns the public and malicious imputation of these vices, defects, acts, or omissions put forward by certain personalities under the guise of public service to the discredit and contempt of the DBM as an institution.
Not only are these allegations misplaced—as the DBM is not the proper party to address such claims—they are exaggerated and sensationalized to serve a political agenda and to destabilize the good work the DBM and the Duterte administration have done.
Incidentally, the Philippines is first in Asia for budget transparency. This is according to the Open Budget Survey by the International Budget Partnership (IBP). With a score 67 out of 100, the DBM is one of the best budget institutions in the world. This is a feat by the current DBM and Administration. Needless to say that the DBM is transparent, with all its actions being in accordance with pertinent laws, rules, and regulations.
We urge the public to be critical against the baseless accusations being peddled. The DBM as an institution has never been political, and we denounce the use of the department’s good name and reputation for political causes.