THE Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s latest report looks into the massive renovation project at the House of Representatives in time for the eighth state of the nation address (SONA) of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Nograles says the long years of disrepair of the Batasan complex have made the renovation project necessary.

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Six months on the job, Nograles is showing that more than the substance of reforms he pledged in February after ousting long-time Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. with the backing of lawmakers loyal to Arroyo, he is given to form and big spending.

While initial reports placed the tag price at P200 million, the PCIJ discovered that the prettified House will actually cost taxpayers some P1 billion.

It is also not sure where the P200 million Nograles requested and secured from Arroyo was sourced as there is no allocation in the 2008 budget for the House renovation project. A senior budget official says the agency had not issued a Special Allocation Release Order (SARO) for the House. House officials, however, said the P200 million is covered by a SARO although they do not know its funding source.

Read on at

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(Photos taken by Tita Valderama)

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