Progressive lawmaker denounces billions spent for new Senate building

This article is available in Pilipino

ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro strongly condemned the spending of billions of funds for the construction of the New Senate Building (NSB) in Taguig City for the Senate, and proposed Congress, relocation.

“We are against wasting billions of pesos on an unnecessary transfer to the business district of BGC (Bonifacio Global City in Taguig), where property values reach almost P1 million per square meter,” Rep. Castro said on June 14. “We firmly reject plans to [also] transfer the House of Representatives to the BGC.”

She said the current premises of Congress in Batasan Hills is sufficient for its needs. Most Congress employees also live near or around its compound. The transfer of Congress to the BGC will mean an increase in their expenses. Majority of the employees are against the proposed transfer.

The issue of NSB’s exorbitant construction came to light when its new president, Sen. Chiz Escudero, exposed that up to ₱23 billion is needed for its construction. The original cost of the project was only ₱8.9 billion. Escudero ordered the construction’s suspension and the project’s review.

In the last reports, the ₱3.1 billion discovered spent on the construction of the building’s first part was categorized as “lump sum” or exempted from detailed auditing. This strengthens the suspicion of widespread anomalies in the procurement of materials and so on.

The NSB construction started in March 2019 under the Department of Public Works and Highways. Its main contractor is Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, the company previously involved in the construction of the controversial Makati City Hall 2 parking building in 2014. The opening of the investigation into the project has reignited the rivalry between the political dynasties of the Cayetanos of Taguig and the Binays of Makati.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson first proposed the construction of the expensive NSB in 2017 in the face of the need for more space and advanced facilities. The gigantic buildings were built in “preparation” of having 65 senators in line with the Duterte regime’s then-pushed transition to a federal system of government.

AB: Progressive lawmaker denounces billions spent for new Senate building