Bag-ao on infra budget cut: I didn’t mean to undermine House; I stuck to my principles

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Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, one of 24 lawmakers who reportedly lost infrastructure funds as punishment for dissenting against the administration, confirmed meeting with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas to personally appeal for the restoration of the allocations for her constituents.

She said she told Alvarez that her participation in House deliberations was done according to her “fundamental principles and values,” and according to “what I believed was right.”

Bag-ao, in a statement, narrated the series of events leading up to her making a plea before the Speaker.

“What I can confirm at this moment is that I did approach the Majority Leader, Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, to seek clarification and confirmation about the rumored budget cut last December 13, during our final session day of the year,” she recalled.

“We had a very cordial, respectful, and candid discussion, and upon checking, he confirmed that there was indeed a budget cut for some districts, including the Lone District of Dinagat Islands,” Bag-ao said.

“I went to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after that to seek further enlightenment about this matter. I mentioned to him that this allocation is important for Dinagatnons who are longing for development and basic services that were out of reach to many of them in the past,” she said.

“I also politely told him that I did not, in any way, undermine the leadership of the House and that I always participated in deliberations and voted according to my fundamental principles and values and according to what I believed was right,” she added.

Bag-ao said, “It has to be emphasized that the budget allocation that was allegedly slashed is not mine at all, but belongs to the Dinagatnons—Filipinos, Mindanaoans—citizens of this country whom we all serve and are in need of attention from this government.”

But she emphasized that she could not yet fully comment on the actual budget cuts supposedly suffered by her district.

“Right now, I am not able to fully comment on the matter concerning the budget that was slashed from the allocation meant for Dinagat Islands in 2018 as we have yet to see the final copy of the General Appropriations Act signed by the President,” Bag-ao said.