Press Release
August 27, 2013


Today we start in the Senate the deliberation on the proposed 2014 national budget. This is the first time we are opening the budget debate in an environment of mistrust, and even anger, of the people on the government in general and the legislature in particular because of the allegations of corruption and abuse in the use of the PDAF.

We cannot ignore the sentiments of our people.

We will be remiss in our duties if we do not exercise our Constitutional duty to review closely the budget. We will discharge this mandate to scrutinize the budget and the expenditure program, including the identifying the beneficiaries, and assessing the impact of the programs outlined in the budget to the people. No Filipino will be left behind. This Senate will not abdicate its Constitutional duty, and leave to the discretion of the Executive, the authority to decide and authorize the expenditure of the public funds. In the exercise of this Constitutional duty, we will make our people part of the process. We are one with them in denouncing corruption in government. We will take into serious account what our people say.

Having said that, let me congratulate the economic managers for the economic performance of the country: 6.8% increase in GDP in 2012, 7.8% in the Q1. Moody's rating agency predicts a 7.2% growth for the Philippine in Q2 and that will bring us to 7.5% growth in the first semester. However, as against these rosy economic figures, which placed the country as a leader in economic growth in Asia, we still see unemployment as a challenge: 7.0% in 2012; 7.3% as of April 2013. Underemployment is high at 20%. Poverty level remains 27% in Q1. We are looking at the 2014 budget as the missing link between economic growth, on the one hand, and unemployment, underemployment, reduction of poverty levels, on the other. We intend to scrutinize the budget along with these lines. We want to see the budget as an engine for inclusive growth.

It is in this context that the Senate exercises its Constitutional mandate to review and approve the 2014 budget.

Finally, we commit to finish and approve the 2014 national budget by December 2014 to prevent a re-enacted budget.

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