Ang pahayag ni KABAYAN partylist Rep. Ron Salo noong Nobyembre na bahagi ng P2.5 bilyon na tinanggal…
KABAYAN party list Rep. Ron Salo’s pronouncement in November that part of the P2.5 billion slashed from the budget of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) hosting was moved to fund infrastructure projects in “Iloilo” is unproven.
The Ombudsman is currently investigating the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chaired by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. Several senators in December have also called for a probe into the “excesses” and “possible corruption” behind the country’s hosting of the biennial sports tournament.
In a privilege speech during the Nov. 27 plenary session of the House of Representatives, Salo commended Phisgoc, saying “despite the budget delay and even with the slashing (of) the SEA Games budget by Senator Drilon amounting to 2.5 billion pesos,” was set to showcase the Filipino “culture and talents.” He then added:
"Curiously, however, simultaneous with the 2.5 billion slash in the SEA Games budget, is the increase in the budget for various infrastructure projects in Iloilo by 2.3 billion pesos."
Source: House of Representatives, 18th CONGRESS 1st REGULAR SESSION #32, Nov. 27, 2019, watch from 46:19 to 46:58
The powerpoint presentation aiding Salo’s speech also displayed the text:
“Is it coincidence? Php 2.3B Nilipat sa Iloilo (Transferred to Iloilo)”
Source: House of Representatives, 18th CONGRESS 1st REGULAR SESSION #32, Nov. 27, 2019, watch at 46:49
“Iloilo” is Sen. Franklin Drilon’s bailiwick. The senator had previously questioned the release of P700 million to Phisgoc, a private foundation, before the start of the SEA Games.
Salo’s claim remains unproven.
It is unclear whether the party list representative was referring to Iloilo the city or the province in his speech.
One of the sources of a local government unit’s (LGU) budget is the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). It is part of the national internal revenue released directly to LGUs as an “automatic appropriation.” This means the IRA “need not pass through congressional approval before it is released to LGUs.”
Data from both Iloilo City and Iloilo Province show their infrastructure budgets in 2019 did not even reach one billion pesos.
Iloilo City’s allocation for various infrastructure projects in 2019 amounts to P 141.1 million. This does not include projects funded by the national government through the Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) and other agencies.
The city’s overall annual budget for 2019 is P 2.3 billion.
Some of the high-profile infrastructure projects in the province and city of Iloilo are funded through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Program, which would traverse through a part of Iloilo Province, is an ongoing P97.3 billion flagship project of the DPWH financed through Official Development Assistance (ODA), a loan and/or a grant given by foreign governments to the Philippines.
Another project under the DPWH is the ongoing construction of a drainage system in some parts of Iloilo City. It has a budget allocation of P190 million.
The expansion of the Iloilo International Airport worth P30.4 billion, is spearheaded by the DOTr and is expected to be finished by December 2021.
During the December 2018 Senate session on the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for the 2019 National Budget, Drilon questioned why the P7.5 billion budget for the SEAG was lodged with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), where chair of SEAG organizing committee Alan Peter Cayetano was former secretary, and not with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
He then suggested for the allocation be moved to the PSC, to which Committee on Finance Chairperson Sen. Loren Legarda agreed.
However, in the bicameral report on the GAB presented by Legarda on the Feb. 8 Senate session, the transferred budget from the DFA to PSC amounted to only P 5 billion. It was not included in her report where the remaining P2.5 billion supposed budget for the SEAG went.
The bicameral committee, which ultimately approved the GAB, is composed of representatives from both the House and the Senate.
Drilon, in a Nov. 27 press release, belied Salo’s statement, clarifying that the bicameral committee, and not he, reduced the SEAG budget from P7.5 billion to P5 billion.
The senator has also been previously accused of corruption over infrastructure projects in Iloilo. In 2014, Iloilo-based journalist and columnist Manuel Mejorada filed plunder charges against Drilon over the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center. In 2017, Mejorada was found guilty of four counts of libel and was charged of up to four years and two months of imprisonment.
Misleading content sprouted online after Salo’s insinuation. Youtube channel Usapang Balita TV uploaded Nov. 27 a video entitled “Sea games budget kinaltasan ng 2.5B ng Senado napunta sa Bayan ni Drilon sa iloilo ang 2.3B (SEA Games budget reduced to 2.5B by the Senate, 2.3B went to Drilon’s province in Iloilo).” It featured part of Salo’s speech, as well as a commentary calling out Drilon.
It was viewed more than 20,000 times, and could have reached over 200,000 social media users. Public Facebook groups Tulfo Brothers Worldwide and DUTERTE MARCOS SUPPORTERS generated most of its traffic.
Senate of the Philippines, Senate Resolution No. 274, Dec. 16, 2019
House of Representatives, 18th CONGRESS 1st REGULAR SESSION #32, Nov. 27, 2019
The Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 9358, Oct. 17, 2006
Department of Budget and Management, Budget Operations Manual for Local Government Units, 2016
The Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 7160, Oct. 10, 1991
Iloilo City Government, 20 percent Infrastructure Budget for years 2018 and 2019, received Dec. 16, 2019
Province of Iloilo, Breakdown of 2018 Budget for Infrastructure, received Dec. 10, 2016
Province of Iloilo, Breakdown of 2019 Budget for Infrastructure, received Dec. 10, 2016
Province of Iloilo, Total Budget for years 2018 and 2019, received Dec. 10, 2016
National Economic and Development Authority, Infrastructure Flagship Projects Matrix 2019, July 2019
Environmental Management Bureau, Feasibility Study of Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges Project, August 2019
National Economic and Development Authority, Official Development Assistance, n.d.
National Economic and Development Authority, CY 2019 3rd Quarter RPMES Status Report, Sept. 30, 2019
Build Build Build, Iloilo Airport - Operations, Maintenance and Development Project, n.d.
Senate of the Philippines, Senate Journal Session No. 41, Dec. 4-7, 2018
Senate of the Philippines, Senate Journal Session No. 53, Feb. 8, 2019
Senate of the Philippines, Statement of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Rep. Ron Salo's statement, Nov. 27, 2019
GMA News, Drilon urges gov’t to start building Iloilo-Guimaras bridge, Aug. 21, 2019
Philippine Star, Drilon cited for contribution to Iloilo’s economy, Aug. 18, 2019
Manila Bulletin, Drilon feted by Ilonggo business leaders, Aug. 17, 2019
Philippine Star, Drilon faces plunder for 'overpriced' Iloilo Convention Center, Oct. 29, 2014
Rappler, Drilon, Cabinet secs face raps over 'overpriced' Iloilo building, Oct. 29, 2014
GMA News, Drilon faces raps over alleged overpriced Iloilo convention center, Oct. 29, 2014
Inquirer.net, Drilon critic sentenced to up to 4 years in prison for libel, Feb. 20, 2017
GMA News, Pasay court convicts Drilon critic for libel, Feb. 21, 2017
Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, Former Provincial Administrator kag journalist Manuel Mejorada, ginpamatbatan nga Guilty sa Libel Case nga ginfile ni Sen. Franklin Drilon, Feb. 21, 2017