To fast-track the rollout of big-ticket infrastructure projects, implementing agencies have been allocated a bigger P56.5 billion under the proposed 2019 national budget to acquire right of way (ROW), the Department of Budget and Management said Thursday.

In a statement, the DBM said the ROW budget for next year included P29.4 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways, P26.9 billion for the Department of Transportation, as well as P200 million for the National Irrigation Administration.

Comparing with allocations for ROW under this year’s budget, the DPWH had a lower P20.6 billion; the DOTr, P16.1 billion; and the NIA, P30 million.

The larger allotted budgets will allow the agencies to settle ROW disputes, the DBM said.

Also under the proposed 2019 budget, the National Housing Authority will get P577 million for its resettlement program, of which a portion will cover ROW acquisition costs.

The DBM added that the resettlement costs of those to be displaced by ROW acquisition were already tucked into the respective budgets of the DPWH and the DOTr.

Republic Act No. 10752, or “The Right-of-Way Act” signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2016 paved the way for easier expropriation of privately owned land for the national government’s infrastructure projects as well as public service facilities, the DBM noted.

In the past, problems in acquiring ROW delayed infrastructure projects rolled out by the national government and the private sector, but RA 10752 addressed that roadblock.

By: Ben O. de Vera