Press Release
August 20, 2013

Nancy turns down P20M 'additional' committee budget
Supports Minority call vs additional budgetary allocations

Senator Nancy Binay said she will stand firm with the Senate minority bloc in their stance not to accept the across-the-board P20 million budget allocations for each senator on top of their regular budgets.

The "rationalization" of the Senate budget was decided and voted in caucus by the Senate majority members present at the meeting two weeks ago as it was presented as part of the reforms being instituted by the Senate in the light of controversies on large budgetary releases for oversight committees. The "rationalization" was also intended to resolve discrepancies in the committee budget distribution.

According to the Senate leadership, the directive will result in savings amounting to P32.5 million. However, the members of the Minority believe that this "rationalization" move is actually an "equalization" measure as budget is redistributed to all senators regardless if the senator chairs a committee or not.

"Let's call a spade a spade. Kung ano talaga ang para sa mga komite na naayon sa batas, iyon ang dapat ibigay. Sa mga key committee, tama lang ibigay sa kanila kung ano ang nararapat at huwag nang bawasan pa. Kung P35 million ang budget para sa isang komite, bigyan natin ng P35 million at hindi lang P20 million. Paano kung, ang budget para sa isang committee ay P5 million lamang, kailangan bang bigyan din ito ng P20 million? Kailangan lang natin ibigay ang nararapat," said Binay.

The minority bloc detailed in a statement that they agree with the Senate leadership "in seeking and pursuing a sound reform initiative bearing in mind the oversight function of Congress and the need to justify before the people how taxpayers' money is spent for this purpose."

Binay said that her committee, Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, does not have any oversight function and therefore there is no reason to allocate any budget for it.

"Usually, oversight committees are attached to main committees. Wala namang oversight yung Social Justice committee, at parang mali kasi na I will be given an oversight just to get P20 million," she explained.

However, the members of the bloc also want the Senate leadership to inform the public of what the budgetary measure will mean - an increase in the senators' operational budgets by P20 million annually per senator.

Because of this, the lady senator and Minority urge the Senate to "review, revise and repeal" the laws and resolutions that created oversight committees based on the committee's "need, importance, function and actual performance."

"Many of the committees actually have not been active through the years and there is no real record or report of its achievements as such, and no standard by which the public would measure whether such huge amounts can be justified as being necessary and useful expenditures. Certainly, a real rationalization can and will result in much more savings for the people..." according to the Minority's statement.

Binay said that the minority bloc also sees the measure "will result in the sweeping abolition of staff positions devoid of any standard or rationale." Because of this, Binay sees that it would be better if the senate can allot extra budgets for administrative purposes for each of the senator's staff instead of allocating funds for the committees.

"This 'equalization' measure will not be fair to those staff and personnel who are working hard for each committee for the past few years. Hindi pwede tanggalin na sila kasi hindi na kayang sustentuhan ng committee budget ang kanilang sweldo. Kailagan din natin isipin ang kanilang kapakanan at ng kanilang mga pamilya na umaasa sa kanila," Binay said.

Binay was reported to forego her the oversight budget given to her as she wants to concentrate on the committee chairmanship that was assigned to her, the committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

"Maganda ang intensyon ng Senate leadership sa panukalang ito ngunit may mga pagkakataon na dapat nating tingnan ng maigi at pag-aralan kung ano ang nararapat para ating mapaglingkuran ang bayan. Hindi porke't may kontrobersya ay dali-dali na tayong gagalaw upang mapagtakpan ang problema. Bilang mga senador, kailangan nating panindigan ang ating mga nagawang desisyon," Binay concluded.

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