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Speaker to Lagman: Where did P3.8B infra fund go?

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Irked by criticisms over the House leadership’s move to cut infrastructure funds of certain opposition lawmakers from the budget, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez targeted Albay first-district Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the Magnificent 7 lawmakers affected by the cuts.

In a statement on Thursday, he asked Lagman to explain where P3.8 billion worth of projects for his district in Albay went.

“Also, let me point out that Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a leader of the opposition in Congress, has projects worth a total of P3.8 billion in his district,” Alvarez said.

“We would be very happy to hear from him where this huge funding has gone,” he said.

Shortly after Alvarez issued the statement, Lagman released his own, vehemently denying the insinuation.

“The Speaker’s claim that I proposed P3.8-B worth of projects is utterly preposterous. How could an opposition Representative propose and be accorded this amount of projects?” he said.

“The leadership of the House and Appropriations Committee advised me to submit, probably like most other Representatives, P50-M and later an additional P20-M for hard infrastructure projects for my district to be included in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA),” Lagman said.

“These are legitimate priority projects which are not in the nature of pork barrel as defined by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Lagman added, “It was the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build and Build” policy which proposed and caused to be included in the President’s National Expenditure Program (NEP) the bulk of other essential infrastructure projects intended for my district which subsequently formed part of the GAB.”

“What the DPWH proposed was not at my initiative or request,” he said.