Press Release
August 15, 2016

Transcript of Ambush Interview during turnover of NEP

On the 2017 National Expenditure Program

SP: Una sa lahat, this afternoon, we will be seeing a unique event. I have not been one month in the position as SP, it's the first time that the National Expenditure Program will be presented to the Senate. The budget secretary is here to do the honor. Sabi ko wag na sa akin ibigay symbolically yung copies but to the chair of our Finance Committee, Senator Loren Legarda.

Legarda: It's the first time that the Executive is delivering the National Expenditure Program. We are grateful to the very proactive Secretary of Budget Ben Diokno. Yes, the P3.35 trillion budget is hereby presented to us and we will exert our best efforts to conduct the hearings and the early passage of this most important piece of legislation. You know the budget better because we haven't read it yet. Perhaps, I'm sure they want to know how different is this budget. This is a changed budget because you see the marked increase in the allocation for social services which is 40% of the President's budget. We also see a marked increase in the public spending in terms of infrastructure and the focus on education but the Budget Secretary has much to say about that.

Diokno: This budget has many firsts as the Senate President said. In my entire career as a Budget Secretary since 1986, this has never been done before. We usually present the budget to the House and that's it. They just wait for it.

Q: Sir, as I understand there was a 600% increase in the budget of the Office of the President...

Diokno: That's not true. There's a P15 billion increase in the budget of the Office of the President because of the 50th year of the ASEAN that will be celebrated here. We are hosting the golden year of the ASEAN. There's a P15 billion allocation for that. We placed it under the Office of the President. In the budget implementation phase, we will distribute it to the appropriate agencies like tourism, foreign affairs.

Q: All intended for the ASEAN?

Diokno: That's correct.

Q: Sir, how about the increase in the budget of the PNP, 24% daw po sa DILG?

Diokno: That's basically because of the PNP because it's the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Q: Sir, how will that be helping the war on drugs?

Diokno: There will be an increase in the pay of the police. The CCT beneficiaries will get 20 kilos of rice per month for the entire year.

Legarda: Just to be accurate the increase in the DILG budget is 19.7% increase or higher than the 2016 budget. 19.7 percent for DILG and the budget for the Department of Education is 31% higher for 2017 than the 2016 budget. If you put all of this together, the social services, di ba sabi ni President Duterte, you have to take care of the people first. Including DILG and Public Works, because you want to provide jobs. So, there is a 15.5% increase in infrastructure spending.

Diokno: We will be spending something like 900 billion for next year, just for public infrastructure. During the entire term of Mr. Duterte, from 2017 to 2022, we will be spending something like 7 trillion. Just to make up for past development.

Q: Including drug rehabilitation?

Diokno: Yes. There will be five or rather four rehab centers, each rehab center will cost approximately 700 million. There are two in Luzon, one in the Visayas, and another one in Mindanao.

Q: How about the CCT?

Diokno: In CCT, we will not increase the number of beneficiaries, but we will clean up the list so that those who do not deserve... will be out of the list, and those who are deserving will be included in the list. In addition we will provide 20 kilos of rice per month, for 12 months, for three million households. That is approximately 20 billion.

Q: Will there be a streamlining of government agencies?

Diokno: We will request for a separate bill streamlining the bureaucracy because there have not been any major reorganizations. This is to clean-up some of the agencies which are redundant, and as you noticed things have changed significantly. We are more techie now than before, and some of the things that we do 20 years before are no longer relevant.

Q: Aside from the increase sa PNP, meron din po sa soldiers?

Diokno: Military and uniformed personnel. That means AFP, PNP, Coast Guard, and the firemen. All of them will receive significant salary increases.

Legarda: If I may, the DND has a 14.3% increase in 2017 from the present year's budget, so if regards to your question addressing the soldiers which falls under the DND, because that explains partially the increase of 14.3%.

Diokno: In fact, we will get it from what is called the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund. So on top of the increase, we will have an additional salary increase in the salary of the military and uniformed personnel.

Q: No budget allocation for Cha-cha (charter change) in 2017?

Diokno: Nothing for Cha-cha, with the elections. But the preference is the Conass (constituent assembly), right? Because the Con-ass, there is no need for paying these guys, the senators here, all the because that is double compensation. They don't need to hire new staff, because they can use their own staff, etc. So Con-ass is cheaper than Con-con.

SP: On behalf of the Senate, thank you Mr. Budget Secretary, for this unprecedented act, which you will allow us to scrutinize and study the National Expenditure Program earlier compared to past practices, because it is part of the majority's program of government to reform the budget and also to declare a war on waste. We will have more time to study, thank you for your cooperation. Thank you very much.

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