By Hannah Torregoza
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is puzzled as to how about P7.5-billion budget supposedly for the Philippine’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games was “mysteriously” lodged in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Drilon raised the matter during the deliberations of the proposed 2019 budget of the agency, Thursday night.
“We discovered that about P7.5 billion in budget for SEA Games is lodged in the DFA,” Drilon said during his interpellation.
“We could not understand why it is lodged under the DFA. This is certainly a little surprising,” he said.
As far as he is concerned, the minority leader said the DFA’s mandate has nothing to do with sports.
“This is the first time I hear that the DFA is having a P7.5-B for sports program,” he said.
When Drilon questioned the policy, Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance said the budget in question is supposedly for the preparation for Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which the country is hosting next year.
Legarda confirmed that it was former Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano, who is the chairman of the games organizing committee, who requested that it be lodged under the DFA budget.
But according to Legarda, Cayetano’s successor, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, has asked the committee to transfer the P7.5-billion funds to another agency.
This prompted Drilon to ask the committee to transfer the P7.5-billion budget to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), to which Legarda agreed.
To this, Drilon urged lawmakers to exercise caution in crafting the budget, saying that “funds cannot just be moved on the basis of the personal preferences of the head of the agency.”
Drilon said it was a good thing that Secretary Locsin was able to pinpoint the error and sent a letter requesting the Senate to transfer it to the appropriate agency.
“If such a huge amount of funds can be misallocated in an agency where the activity has nothing to do with its mandate, I hope that does not prompt us to comb over every item in the budget,” Drilon pointed out.