MANILA, Philippines - Not just half a billion but over a billion pesos had been spent for infrastructure projects in the Arroyo family's hometown in Pampanga, said DPWH assistant regional director Domingo Mariano, and he claimed this had nothing to do with the President's congressional bid.
On Wednesday, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros disclosed that President Arroyo spent some P459 million for the construction of roads and drainage canals in Pampanga's second district, an amount that was 6 times the allocation given to each of the members of the House.
Even if this was not illegal, Hontiveros said the move was "improper and shameless" because the President is running for the congressional seat in the said district.
Mariano said the infrastructure projects mentioned by Hontiveros were not initiated by the President, but were "regular projects" of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
"These were regular releases of the DPWH under the General Appropriations Act. Before such funds were released, these had to go through the Regional Development Council," he told ABS-CBN News.
Mariano added that infrastructure projects in Pampanga's second district now amount to more than a billion pesos, including the P1.2-billion widening of the Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo Road funded by the Korean government.
DPWH Acting Secretary Victor Domingo, meanwhile, argued that the amount allegedly spent by the President for a number of projects in her hometown was not really enough.
"If it were up to me, more should have been spent. The 2nd district of Pampanga has the lowest ground level there, so it catches all the waters," he said in another interview.
According to documents obtained from the DPWH, Mrs. Arroyo approved about 40 infrastructure projects in Pampanga's second district last year.