Press Release
December 2, 2009

Sponsorship Speech of Sen. Edgardo Angara


Sponsorship of the FY 2010 National Budget
Senator Edgardo J. Angara Chairman, Committee on Finance

The first decade of the 21st century had been difficult for both developed and developing countries, with both natural and man-made disasters shaking the core of the economy, the environment, and society.

The West endured the worst market crash since the Great Depression, an economic meltdown that reverberated to the rest of the world. It was also within this decade that the US suffered the 9/11 attacks, a defining moment in global politics and security. As for natural disasters, we saw Hurricane Katrina strike New Orleans, killing 1,500 and causing billions in property damage. Southeast Asia and Africa were neither spared, facing a tsunami in 2004 that killed over 200,000 across a dozen nations.

In our very own country, we saw the devastation wrought by super typhoons "Frank", "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" to our agriculture, livelihood and public infrastructure, not to mention the painful loss of life. We suffered P48 billion in agriculture damage - in irrigation, crops, fisheries, livestock and post-harvest facilities. The roads, bridges and classrooms destroyed were estimated at P11.08 billion. Over 1.44 million families or 7 million Filipinos lost their homes and were driven to evacuation centers. In the wake of this devastation, we are faced with the difficult task of reconstruction - rebuilding our very geography, our cities and towns, and disaster-proofing our country.

As the decade winds down and we are on the cusp of a new one, we are compelled in order to survive to gear up and prepare for new challenges.

2010 will be known as the year of starting over, and should mark a NEW BEGINNING.

For the Philippines, the 6-year period from 2010 to 2016 will be critical. The next administration faces a daunting challenge: a growing population, an environment under extreme stress, rapid technological breakthroughs, and a dramatically restructured global financial market.

Our country's population is already officially at 95 million. It is predicted to hit the 115 million mark by 2015. By that time, we will have reached the limit of our country's carrying capacity, in terms of both nature and society.

Over a third of our population is composed of children below 14 years old. We have to concern ourselves with how we will provide them quality education, adequate health care, food and clean water, and the basic tools they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

We are at risk of maxing out the resources that can support a burgeoning Philippine population. Climate change has drastically altered not only our ecosystems but has also forced more people into poverty due to depleted natural resources and the threat of more catastrophic natural disasters. Mitigation and adaptation measures should be taken, and the people most vulnerable to its consequences must be given disaster preparedness training.

We live in a world where not only the natural environment is changing. Along with rapid climate change is a technological change happening at breakneck speed. The swift technologization of the world, with technological breakthroughs occurring frequently in a span of a few years, tells us that the world is highly volatile and unpredictable.

The financial system is being turned on its head after the global financial crisis. It is now in the process of being revolutionized, with the whole world becoming one financial market. Technology has enabled one part of the planet to reach the other side in real time.

Growing the economy

Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Senate, with such unprecedented changes, we need to map out an intelligent plan for the country.

This is the rationale behind the proposed P 1.541 Trillion budget of the national government for fiscal year 2010, which I rise to sponsor today for the consideration and approval of this chamber.

Mr. President, as we begin to recover from the global crisis - a fragile and tentative turnaround, it appears - this budget will allow us to keep growing by pump priming our economy to prevent it from contracting and to save more people from falling into poverty.

To illustrate why we need to keep growing, a 1% drop in GDP growth is equal to a 1.35% rise in poverty incidence. In other words, an additional 930,000 people will fall below the poverty line for every 1% GDP drop. On the other hand, a 1% deficit spending, when put into infrastructure and human capital development, will increase GDP growth by .0161%.

The 2010 budget is all about growing the economy and greening the country - emphasizing the promotion of clean technologies, realizing our huge potential for renewable energy, filling our huge infrastructure gaps, and raising our educational qualification, agricultural productivity and shoring up a failing health care system.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Index, the Philippines ranked 87th out of 134 countries. This is a considerable drop of 16 places from last year's 71st rank. This tells us that we need to invest in technological innovation, in basic science, research and development (R&D), and basic infrastructure. We must develop our human capital, along with our public institutions.

We are moving into a new phase of economic competitiveness, one that highlights the importance of infrastructure and human capital development: education, health and sanitation, environment, food production, and science and technology (S&T) as drivers of the nation's growth.

Your Senate Committee on Finance, is channeling vital resources into the construction of major roads and bridges that will open up the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector across various provinces in the country: the Los Baños Interchange, the Dinadiawan-Madela National Road in Quirino and Aurora, Pantabangan Bridge in Nueva Ecija, the Butuan City By-Pass Road, the Allen-malaga Road Section in Northern Samar, Surigao-Davao Coastal Road, Cebu North Coastal Road, and the Upgrading of Junction Sayre Highway in Valencia City.

To build up our human capital, we are putting resources to fund Science, Technology and Engineering Scholarships and Exchange Student Programs for Filipinos in technologically advanced countries like Taiwan, Korea and Japan. This will allow more qualified Filipino scholars in the fields of mathematics and computer technology to pursue higher learning in the country's industrialized neighbors. The knowledge and training they will gain from advanced centers of education will help us create a pool of highly-trained scientists and engineers, a critical mass of talents necessary for the new economy.

The Engineering Research and Development Technology (ERDT) is a consortium of 7 schools including UP-Diliman, Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle, Mapua Institute of Technology, CLSU, MSU, and the University of San Carlos. This consortium aims to increase the numbers of Researchers, Scientists, and Engineers in our country (RSEs). RSEs with advanced degrees are needed to make S&T work for Filipinos: from disaster mitigation to poverty alleviation, from agriculture to semiconductor industries; ensure a sustainable environment and affordable energy for the future.

Our efforts to improve education take flesh in the construction of school buildings in underserved areas, field operations of alternative learning systems, establishing Special Science Sections in all public high schools, and provision for state universities and colleges capital outlay and laboratory equipment.

We are also setting up the Philippine Industrial R&D Institute, which includes Advanced Technical Training. It will be the lynchpin of invigorating our local electronics and semiconductor sector. This R&D institute will be patterned after Taiwan's prestigious Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Both Taiwan and Singapore have used this strategy: boosting their electronics and semiconductor sector to shift to a high value-added industrial growth and jumpstart their economic development.

To further promote livelihood, we are allocating additional funding for the Barangay Kabuhayan Program for barangays of 4th, 5th and 6th class municipalities. The aim is to create more jobs and stimulate rural development, knowing that poverty has a rural face. We are promoting livelihood programs through agro forestry and use of agricultural wastes.

Government resources will also go into planting high value commercial crops (HVCC) and coconuts and rejuvenating our soils through wise intercropping.

We are merging agricultural productivity and the promotion of health through the Nutrition and Hunger Mitigation Program that includes a Gulayan Para sa Masa, dispersal of native chickens and tilapia fingerlings.

We are also putting resources into our children's health, by providing for the advocacy, formulation, production, and distribution of food rich in micro-nutrients, or very simply, vegetables. Further, we are putting funds into DepEd towards promoting gardening in schools nationwide.

The link between health and productivity, as well as education, progress, quality of life and human dignity are clear. Without good health, our children will be unable to realize their development potential. Without a physically and mentally strong workforce, there will be little opportunities for work, productivity and economic growth. Thus, taking care of our children's health is a way to help them escape poverty.

It is also because of this analogy between health and productivity that we are providing funding for equipment in specialty hospitals, as well as the Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Children's Medical Center.

We are funding the National Tele Health Project which will allow even those in far-flung communities to receive medical diagnosis and attention. We are also implementing the Doctors to the Barrios, a rural health practice program.

The Rota-virus vaccination program for 1-year-olds in indigent families, and the National Immunization Program will be implemented as well to intensify our efforts at disease prevention and control.

Greening the Country

Greening the country is an integral component of our development agenda - harnessing our rich natural resources and protecting the environment for sustainable growth.

We are providing funding for the Renewable Energy R&D Institute (RERDI), which will lead the country's efforts in forging public-private initiatives to develop our indigenous clean energy technologies. Clean energy is predicted to be one of the biggest industries of the millennium, and the Philippines is among the 'hot spots' of new power generation investment. We must seize this opportunity for clean growth, weaning us from oil dependence and uniting us with the global effort to combat climate change.

Environmental protection is not a choice. It is a necessity. We are allocating funds for procurement of forest protection equipment to better enable us secure our remaining forest cover, the assessment of rare, threatened and endangered species to gauge their vulnerability and prevent their extinction, and the mapping of our country's forest cover.

We are funding the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Water Act to prevent another Ondoy or Pepeng from causing such a terrible damage like we saw this year.

Another lesson learned from the Ondoy and Pepeng experience is that we need to put in place a more efficient disaster prediction and response system. We can prevent severe loss of life and property if we are better prepared.

That is why we are establishing a Philippine Disaster Preparedness Center so that we can better protect lives and properties from future disasters by enhancing our human, technical and institutional capacity on disaster risk reduction. This could spell the difference between a simple weather disturbance and a catastrophic environmental and human disaster.

Mr. President, in carefully designing the architecture of our national budget, we are pursuing a green and sustainable growth. We can do this by improving our public services, capitalizing on our rich renewable energy resources, our human resources, and creating green jobs and income opportunities that would provide a better quality of life for Filipinos.

On this note, Mr. President, I submit to the collective judgment of this august body with the hope that the proposed national budget for fiscal year 2010 be approved with deliberate speed.

Thank you.

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