Press Release
July 27, 2013

Agency promissory notes like 5-minute fire response time
included in '14 nat'l budget

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has praised Malacanang for the "makeover " of the national budget, in which spending is linked to clear outcomes, "that even the five-minute response time of firefighters is now attached to the budget of the Bureau of Fire Protection as a performance guarantee."

"They are now counting the beans," Recto said in describing the proposed P2.268 trillion 2014 national budget which he said contains "the single most important budgeting innovation" in years, and that is matching funds with "countable outputs."

In the past, the budget of an agency contained only the amount. The one for 2014 includes performance benchmarks, Recto said. "The peso sign now comes with a performance guarantee."

President Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad deserve to be congratulated for this budget initiative, Recto said.

"The 2014 national budget has gone micro and I would even say that it has gone overboard in detailing what an agency must deliver," he said.

He cited the example of the proposed budget for the Philippine National Police in which among its listed major outputs is "a minimum 629,258 crime investigations to be conducted next year and a vow to increase by 25 percent the number of foot and mobile patrols."

In the case of the Bureau of Fire Protection, its budget says it will have a five- to seven- minute response time to 87 percent of the 5,185 distress calls it expects to get next year, Recto said.

Over at the Department of Health, the hospitals it directly operates have pegged a target of 106,000 surgeries. The DoH has a proposed budget of P80.8 billion for 2014, or almost a P30 billion jump from what it is getting this year.

Another government hospital, the Philippine Heart Center, has a promised a three percent mortality rate from cardiac surgeries.

Recto said even defense units are not exempted from revealing what is expected of them.

"The National Arsenal said it will churn out 30 million ammunition rounds. From the Army comes this assurance that 90 percent of its 176 tactical battalions can be made combat-ready within one hour upon receipt of orders from higher authorities," he said.

Even the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency cannot invoke secrecy as it has made public its deliverables of 39,215 intelligence reports in 2014.

Recto explained that the beauty of requiring these "promissory notes" is that "big ticket items get unbundled."

"In the case of the DPWH, its budget says 1,022 gravel roads will be paved while 605 kilometers of national roads will be built. The Department of Agriculture has also indicated that it will repair 1,500 kilometers of farm roads," Recto said.

Another major recipient of funds for 2014, the DSWD, has attached a menu of targets to its request. In addition to the beneficiaries of its "mega P62.6 billion" cash transfer program, it says it will be serving meals to 2,568,811 schoolchildren next year.

On the part of the Department of Education, it has pledged an 84 percent National Achievement Test passing rate for 12.56 million secondary school students.

"Wala talagang pinalampas ang panukalang budget na ito. Pati ang inaasahang bilang ng mga bisita sa ating museums kasama sa kwenta," Recto said, referring to the nearly 900,000 expected visitors of national government-run museums next year.

"Yun nga isang college, ang Tarlac College of Agriculture may quota na 621 graduates sa susunod na taon. Ganun katindi ang pagbubutingting," Recto said.

"May isang target na medyo nakakaaliw nga. Yung Bureau of Corrections, citing historical records siguro, nagsabi na hindi lalampas ng 89 na preso ang makakatakas, pero 100 percent naman silang mahuhuli muli," Recto said.

As to documents, the Land Registration Authority said it is capable of releasing 666,283 land titles next year while the Department of Foreign Affairs said it would be issuing about 3,418,000 pieces of passports and other consular documents.

Recto said that the outcome-based presentation in the 2014 National Expenditure Program and the adoption of what the Budget department has dubbed as the "Performance-Informed Budget structure" will not only promote transparency but ensure "higher rate of returns on public money" spent.

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