Press Release
November 18, 2013

Sponsorship speech Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona
on House Bill No. 2630

Vice Chairman
Senate Committee on Finance
November 18, 2013

It is no doubt that the Philippine economy is now reaping the gains from the reforms put in place by the Aquino administration in the past three years.

We have outpaced our neighbours in the Asian region in terms of GDP growth in the first half of 2013; we were finally given the long awaited investment grade rating by Fitch, Standard and Poor's, and Moody's; and we have lowered public deficit and reduced debt stock as a result of the ongoing fiscal and debt consolidation.

But what does positive economic outlook mean to the average-everyday-just-getting-by Filipino?

Given the power of the purse, we, legislators can make the rosy economic figures relevant to the lives of poor students who are on the brink of dropping out and thus forfeiting their chances to better opportunities, of patients who must shoulder catastrophic payments in hospitals, and of families who have lost their homes.

Mr. President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I rise to sponsor the budget of the following agencies: the Department of Health (DoH), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the State Universities and Colleges (SUC's); institutions under the Office of the President and the Housing Agencies.

In line with the vision of ensuring that the poorest sectors benefit substantially from the growth momentum, we will increase the budget of the Department of Health by Ph34 billion from the current year's budget, to pursue Universal Health Care, particularly for preventive healthcare services and for health insurance coverage for 14.7 million poor and near-poor families.

The PhP 85.12 billion proposed appropriation for health next year is seen to accelerate our progress in the achievement of the health MDGs by infusing funds for immunization, deworming and micronutrient supplementation for children. It will also lower the number of mothers dying of childbirth by training and deploying health personnel to poor localities and improving health facilities around the country. It will also fund programs for the control and prevention of infectious/emerging diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

To help our young people realize their individual and collective potentials and consequently, spur the country's competitiveness, we will increase the budget for the Commission on Higher Education by PhP 5.37 billion next year to provide assistance, scholarships and incentives. Aside from expanding access to education and training, CHED's PhP 8.15 billion budget for 2014 will aid in the development of competencies required for inclusive growth, particularly in key employment generating sectors. State Universities and Colleges will also receive an additional Php 1.87 billion in their budget.

Programs of offices in charge of coordinating poverty alleviation efforts, of pursuing peace between the government and other groups, and of overseeing the welfare of women and athletes will also be adequately funded next year.

On the other hand, the budget for housing agencies faces the daunting challenge of providing shelter to an increasing number of poor Filipinos whose homes have been destroyed by calamities both natural and man-made. This is where we have to tap the private sector to get actively involved in housing and land development and call on our banking sector to augment limited public funds in reducing our housing backlog.

Mr. President, in the aftermath of Yolanda, it is up to us to translate to majority of our country men what a positive economic outlook means.

By passing a National Budget that allocates efficiently and responds effectively to their needs, we give them a fighting chance not just to merely survive, but to be productive and live with dignity.

It is up to us to make them see a glimmer of hope beyond the rosy figures.

Kindly check against delivery. Thank you.

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