“Flooding” the 2024 national budget with flood control projects – worth one-quarter of trillion pesos – could lead to “watered down development that drowns out more urgent social spending,” Senator Chiz Escudero said.
The amount proposed for 2024 – P255 billion – “looms large by any yardstick,” Escudero said.
“It is too big for tubig,” the veteran legislator pointed out.
The seasoned lawmaker said flood control dwarfs what we will spend for new classrooms, hospitals, and irrigation next year.
Total capital outlays, the budgeting term under which infrastructure and equipment falls, is 24.57 billion for the Department of Health (DOH) and 40.13 billion for the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“Parang creek lang ang irrigation while flood control is a mighty river.”
“Flood control even beat our railway budget by over a P100 billion. Railway budget is only P153 billion and irrigation at P31 billion. Parang creek lang ang irrigation while flood control is a mighty river,” the senator said.
“In fact, flood control is bigger than the entire agriculture budget which has been earmarked P181 billion for 2024,” he said.
“If we are spending more for draining water and dredging rivers than for planting food then what is the justification for this?”
“If we are spending more for draining water and dredging rivers than for planting food then what is the justification for this,” Escudero said.
He said the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP), which President Marcos signed in January this year as the nation’s blueprint for growth for 2023-2028 “barely mentions flood control as a development imperative.”
“Ang kapal ng dokumentong iyan. Tatlong beses lang na-mention ang sa flood-control sa Infrastructure and Disaster Resilience chapters. Wala sa MTPDP na nagsasabi na ang national economic reconstruction ay through canal excavation,” Escudero said.
If, according to him, the national budget is the annualized implementation of the economic plan, the spring from which the budget flows, “then why the oversized importance given to flood-control?”
During his recent questioning of economic managers, members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) who appeared before senators to defend the 2024 national budget, Escudero sought the rhyme and the reason for the flood control’s big funding footprint.
“If agriculture is important, why is it that the budget for flood control is bigger than the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) or the agriculture sector as a whole?” he continued.
“It is also bigger than the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and that of the Department of National Defense,” Escudero added.
With its problems in the West Philippine Sea, he also asked why the government would spend more on flood control instead of allocating more funds to boost the country’s territorial defense.
Escudero said “flood control is not bad per se. It is needed. To prevent harm being done on people. But it should be at the right amount. Not by opening the floodgates of money.”
He said the recent flooding in Central Luzon should not be used as a “lame excuse to inundate the 2024 national budget with flood control projects because Region III will only get around ₱10 billion plus or 4 percent of the total budget.”
Escudero said “governance is about allocating scarce resources and if the budget and fiscal space is limited then we should allocate properly.”
This is clearly a misallocation of resources that does not even follow the administration’s own economic blueprint and development vision,” he concluded.