Press Release
November 29, 2012

Cayetano delivers Turno en Contra Speech on 2013 National Budget; laments major concerns in prices, jobs, and pay in three key sectors

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano lamented that despite the substantial increase in the 2013 national budget, it still fails the address the three main issues plaguing the health, education, and peace and order sectors.

He emphasized the need for the efficient allocation and effective use of such as means to provide jobs for our countrymen, give them the proper pay for the services they render and bring down prices of commodities in his Turno en Contra on the 2013 national budget.

"Lately, I have been favoring the term used by former NEDA director-general Cielito Habito: PiTiK - Presyo, Trabaho, Kita. These I believe are the central economic issues of our countrymen that we have to address," he said.

On the issue of education, the senator focused on the plight of the country's public school teachers who have yet to be paid adequately for their service as well as be provided with their full benefits as mandated by RA 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

"Despite the plan to spend P60 billion more next year for education, there is no mention of additional pay and employment for teachers. We have more or less 500,000 teachers in the public school system. A P1,000 increase a month will give you P500 million, if with 13th month pay, that is P6.5 billion. This is something like 10% of the whole increase in the budget. Surely it will be a worthwhile expenditure on the most important factor in education - the teacher," he said.

"How much is the budget, Mr. President? P41.935 million with a per capita spending per teacher of P71. Less than P100 per teacher when we're planning to spend or give DepEd another P50 or 60 billion," he added.

He also discussed concerns with the implementation of the K12 program that he believes will lead to more drop outs and a further decline in the quality of education in the country.

On the issue of health, the minority leader underscored the need to address the problems plaguing our country's nurses, namely their underemployment and unemployment.

He noted that the plan to hire 22,500 nurses under the RN Heals program is a good start. However, it will not go the distance in addressing the unemployment of some 300,000 nurses in the country,

"Schools are also required to have nurses. So do health centers. But many of our schools and health centers have no nurses. While the government tries to hire more nurses through its RN Heals Program, a lot of critics have posed concerns on the 'salary' being given to 'trainee' nurses, which is a meager P 8,000-10,000 per month. Similar to the criticism of paying kindergarten teachers just P3,000," he said.

"So why don't we do something about this? The way I see it, if we hire more nurses, it's a win-win situation for our country. We get more nurses to care for our sick and the nurses in turn get jobs to be able to support their families without going overseas," he added.

Cayetano also urged the government to focus its attention on the worsening peace and order situation in the country.

He noted that one way to address this problem is to provide our law enforcers with better facilities, equipment and pay.

"Even without increasing the number of policemen, we can address the issues of the present crop of policemen and law enforcers by increasing their benefits and pay," he said.

The lawmaker concluded his speech by assuring the government of his support and continuing contribution in thinking of new and creative ways to address the country's different woes. He also urged government agencies to first conduct pilot testing of policies and programs in small regions before pushing for its national implementation.

"Bakit po ang hilig ng Pilipino na one size fits all? Almost all the projects that have been successful are actually experiments of local government units being adopted by the national government. This is because the LGUs can do it on their own without having to insist that all the other LGUs in their region do it," he added.

Cayetano nevertheless stated his optimism at the promising progress that the country has made - a far cry from the situation during the past administration.

"We have much to be proud of in the area of efficient spending with the goal of achieving growth. But I think we can all agree that we need to do more. Ensuring the effective construction of the 2013 budget is one way of ensuring that we can indeed do more to push the country forward," he said.

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