MANILA, Philippines — The national government used P30 million to develop a “bat cave” in Davao del Sur and P150 million to construct a cruise port in Legazpi City even as the country continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Tuesday.
On the first day of House plenary debates on the proposed 2022 national budget, Zarate said the money used for those projects were part of the P10.3 billion contingency fund supposedly allotted for the pandemic response but was instead transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for infrastructure projects.
“Por Diyos, por santo. P30 million? Is Batman or this bat cave more important than our healthcare workers? Why does this need funding as a new project?” Zarate said in Filipino.
Aside from the bat cave and cruise port, Zarate said the P10.3 billion funds were also used for the following:
- P70 million — construction of sports facilities including swimming pool, bleachers, and restroom in Casiguran, Sorsogon
- P100 million — construction of Convention Center Capitol Compound Region II
- P100 million — construction of DPWH Las Pinas-Muntinlupa
- P85.8 million — construction of three-story Presidential Security Group (PSG) Multipurpose Building at Malacanang Park in Manila
- P40 million — construction of three-story instructor’s billeting area with a cafeteria at headquarters of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police in Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna
- P300 million – repair-renovation of Landbank 1 Building on Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati
several projects in Leyte including P30 million for feasibility studies in Central Visayas
“Most of these are road construction or building of multi-purpose buildings. This does not fall under the definition of a contingency fund,” Zarate said.
“The real question here is: We are in a pandemic, and at this time, millions of our countrymen who have their jobs due to lockdowns. Is fixing roads more important?” he added.
In response, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who was sponsoring the debates on the general principles and provisions of the proposed 2022 budget, said that the projects were “authorized by our Constitution to determine what is contingent, what is new and urgent.”
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