Press Release
November 15, 2011


The Senate has been asked to approve the proposed P1.816 trillion national budget for next year, as Senate Finance Committee chairman Franklin Drilon today endorsed the government's spending plans.

"The national budget is the lifeblood that sustains our economy, the fuel that revs up our nation's engine of growth as our government endeavors to trek the straight and narrow path, a road less traveled, to economic progress," said Drilon in sponsoring House Bill No. 5023 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2012.

Drilon said the money measure is a "results-focused budget" aimed at fulfilling the Aquino administration's priorities in promoting social services, supporting economic growth and reducing poverty.

The outlay, he said, supports a rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth by increasing allocations for infrastructure services such as irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads "that will spur agribusiness and the roads to tourism destinations."

"The government is providing for a larger infrastructure program in 2012, P182.2 billion or 25.7% higher than this year. This will include funding for public-private partnerships amounting to P22.1 billion," he said.

Critical investments were also placed for activities that would secure peace and order, attain environment sustainability, enable growth and better opportunities in conflict-torn areas, promote disaster preparedness and preserve natural resources, said Drilon.

"To foster transparency, accountability and participation in the budget, several reforms were undertaken. As a policy, lump-sum funds were fleshed out, with their allocation directed and released to the smallest implementing units," Drilon added.

The Finance Committee is recommending amendments, among others, such as the transfer of P1.9 billion fund for the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) or Peaceful and Resilient Communities program to a single fund for easier monitoring which will be used for development projects. The program is being undertaken by the Departments of Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare, Agrarian Reform and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The chamber was also asked to restore some P811 million that the House of Representatives slashed from the budget for irrigation, realign P750 million from the DILG to the Local Water Utilities Administration for potable water projects, and cut P100.943 million in the allocation for discretionary funds for the governor and vice-governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) due to corruption in the region as disclosed by audit reports from the Commission on Audit.

Moreover, a P100-million in funding has been endorsed for the Governance Commission for Government-owned or -controlled Corporations (GCG), which was given the delegated authority through Republic Act 10149 to review state firms. The law is principally authored by Drilon.

A cut of P37.532 million representing feasibility studies of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, which has existed for several years, was also proposed.

Drilon introduced amendments to the special provision on "Funding Requirements for the Filling up of Unfilled Positions" for the Judiciary, wherein savings from unfilled positions as of June 30, 2012 may be utilized for the construction and repair of the Hall of Justice and the buildings of Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals.

All departments, bureaus and agencies will be required to submit to the President and both Houses of Congress a quarterly report on the accomplishments in the use of confidential and intelligence funds in a bid to promote transparency in budget use. State-run enterprises are likewise required to submit reports on use of such funds to the President through the GCG and to Congress.

Disbursements to the ARMM will be subject to a pre-audit in view of "poor internal control" of public funds.

According to Drilon, plenary debates would be completed on November 22, which is also the date of the simultaneous approval on second and third reading in the Senate, he said.

A bicameral conference committee will be called on November 23-28 to reconcile disagreements between the Senate and the House versions of the budget, he added. Likewise, he assured the passage of the government's spending plan before lawmakers go on a holiday break on December 17.

The proposed outlay for next year is 10.4% higher from the current year's outlay of P1.645 trillion. Next year's budget represents 16.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), or the value of goods and services produced by an economy in a given period.

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