Press Release
October 21, 2020

DHSUD Budget Hearing
Transcript of Sen. Francis "Tol" N. Tolentino's interpellation on DHSUD budget

(Sen. Tolentino): Siguro i-stress ko lang po 'yong napag-usapan kanina. I've been hearing a lot of comments that DHSUD budget is really low. In fact, it represents just 0.8% of the total National Budget, and its budget today as it stands is barely 4.7% of the budget proposed by the DHSUD family. Nabanggit niyo po kanina that we're facing a lot of difficulties. It has been stressed over and over that the first line of defense against COVID-19 is your house. How can you shelter in place during a lockdown if you don't have a house of your own? How can we implement a massive housing program if DHSUD doesn't have an adequate housing budget? I really affirm and support earlier discussions. We really need more budget for the Department of Human Settlements. And as it stands, a lot of budgetary allocations in housing are spread out to different departments and agencies. I have stressed this since last year. Even DSWD has a housing budget. So if we have spread out this budget before the establishment of the DHSUD, it is more administratively logical now that we aggregate all of these and pool the funds in one department. We have been asking a lot from DHSUD but they don't have the resources. 'Yun lang po and I support of an increase of the DHSUD budget. Maraming salamat po, Madam Chair.

(Sen. Risa): Salamat Sen. Francis. I was actually going to ask you nga during our hearing kung iniintend niyong i-invoke ulit 'yong motion na 'yon. To have housing-related funds transferred to DHSUD. So salamat for bringing that up.

(Sen. Villar): I want to second the motion of Sen. Tolentino that we should give more budget to NHA kasi alam mo kami, we come from Metro Manila and our biggest problem is the relocation sites of our informal settlers especially along the river. So I support that move, that manifestation by Sen. Tolentino

(Sen. Tolentino) : All questions will be addressed to Sec. Del Rosario. Good afternoon. You heard me a while ago that DHSUD should have a bigger budget for this year. But my question would center on policy issues. Secretary, considering that you have a meager budget this year and a lot of the Senators, my colleagues here, are amenable to having your budget increased, how sure are we that if you will have a bigger budget, it will be managed in such a way that the purposes of the law will be accomplished? Because I note for a fact that even with a meager budget-- and this is true for all agencies-- your department still has some COA flags. Notably, this is just a small amount, a P2.4 million unliquidated cash advance. How can you assure this committee that if we give you a bigger budget, it will be used properly?

(Sec. Del Rosario): The bulk of the budget being requested by the department will go to the key shelter agencies like NHA. They submitted 63 billion and was only given 2 billion.

(Sen. Tolentino): Thank you, Secretary. This is probably the reason why Sen. Drilon has been asking you to answer for and in behalf of the Department. The Department has attached agencies. So we need not ask the bureau director or the NHA because this is just one umbrella organization as envisioned by Republic Act 11201. We should not separate granularly all the housing agencies apart from the Office of the Secretary. That is how you should address this line of questioning. Looking forward, that should be your mindset. You are the head of the Department. You should not treat other agencies as mini-departments within your Department. That was the purpose of the law when DHSUD was created. And you reminded me of a promise, this is with all due respect, a promise you made last year that you will submit a copy to my Office and to the Senate of all lands available for housing development, either in the rural or urban areas. Mr. Secretary, I have yet to receive that listing.

(Sec. Del Rosario): We already submitted the initial inventory of idle government lots owned by the national government as well as the local government.

(Sen. Tolentino): Thank you, Secretary. May I ask if you have an Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs?

(Sec. Del Rosario): What I have is head of Legal Department.

(Sen. Tolentino): So he is in-charge of all legal questions pertaining to your Department, I suppose?

(Sec. Del Rosario): Yes.

(Sen. Tolentino): When the law authorizes your Department to craft the implementing rules, is the Legal Department the one which spearheaded the crafting of the IRR?

(Sec. Del Rosario): Not yet, your honor.

(Sen. Tolentino): So my question is, do you have an IRR?

(Sec. Del Rosario): Yes, your honor. It was published.

(Sen. Tolentino): But perhaps, belatedly. The law mandates you to craft and submit an IRR within 90 days. I hope you can furnish us again a copy of the IRR. Because it appears from the previous questioning, again I have this mindset that you should treat the Department as one integral organization, that you don't have a separate IRR for NHA and for the other agencies attached such as the HLURB. It is just one IRR for the whole Department, is that correct?

(Sec. Del Rosario): Yes.

(Sen. Tolentino): So submit a copy of the IRR to us because I'll be jumping into policy-making issues. When the law was enacted in Valentine's Day, 2019, and on Valentine's Day of 2022, you're supposed to submit to both Houses of Congress a copy of your recommendations on how we can improve the law. But within that three-year period, you have the ball. You can do, authorize, especially under Sec. 7 of Republic Act 11201 and I'd like to quote, permit me Madam Chairman,

"Sec. 7 G. Coordinate with other agencies and instrumentalities of the government to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of housing and urban development programs."

That I think is your go-ahead insofar as the law is concerned. You need not invoke the intervention of the Senate and the House of Representatives on what you should do and how you will have an increase in budgetary allocation. Talagang nakikita namin na kulang ngayon but if you will just invoke this Mr. Secretary and I hope you will do this before we can go into plenary. If you will be, pardon the term and with all due respect, if you will be more proactive enough and write letters, I hope your legal department is taking note of this and write letters to the departments and agencies mentioned a while ago, the Department of Agrarian Reform, they have a big budget for housing. The DILG, they have a big budget for housing. The Office of Civil Defense, they have a big budget for housing. The DSWD, they have a P4 billion budget for housing. The NDRRMC, they have a big budget for housing. Just this five (5) agencies, Mr. Secretary. I implore you before the Senate plenary, we suggest that you craft a letter asking by virtue of Sec. 7 of R.A. 11201, letter G, that you are coordinating to achieve the purposes of the law, and ask them to voluntarily and to consent to the transfer of the housing budget to your department before we go into the plenary. This is so that this committee will be aided properly. When the law was passed, it allows you to engage with other departments to coordinate. You can ask them to have their housing budgets transferred to the DHSUD before we wield power of the purse of Congress. Kayo muna ang mag-usap

(Sen Drilon): I support the proposition of Sen. Tolentino. I would go one step further. Why don't we initiate it? Why don't we move the budgets that Sen. Tolentino has identified as pertaining to housing in different line departments and walk it over to this agency, Sen. Tolentino. What do you think?

(Sen. Tolentino): Yes, I agree with the good minority floor leader. However, the Secretary should likewise exercise his power pursuant to the law to coordinate with other government agencies. These are not self-executing provisions. Tulungan niyo naman kami. I agree with Sen. Drilon na we should identify this now but it will be a coercive action pursuant to the power of the purse. Sabayan niyo kami. Ipakita niyo na, Sec. Delfin, bakit may budget ang OCD? Nakalagay sa law creating OCD, Sec. 9. And I quote, ang nakalagay po doon, "The functions of the Office of Civil Defense, to advise, formulate, identify, develop national standards." How can you have a housing project? And I see the same again for DILG law. Wala naman siguro silang housing mandate? The same is true for the housing program of DSWD, as well as the Department of Agrarian Reform whose function is to distribute lands to our farmers. So pwede kaya tulungan kami ni Sec. Del Rosario? We're not supposed to referee between different government agencies.

(Sen. Drilon): Mr. Secretary, take note of this request of Sen. Tolentino and with the caveat that in case you fail to do what Sen. Tolentino suggested, we will support a motion on the part of Sen. Tolentino to move over to the Department of Housing those items on the budget of the other agencies which pertain to housing. So at least by looking at the budget, we will know how much is the support for the housing sector instead of the budget being spread to other agencies whose mandate is not housing. That's my manifestation.

(Sen. Nancy): Pwede lang po tanungin si Sen. Francis, magkano po ba more or less 'yong nakita niyang pondo?

(Sen. Tolentino): Thank you, Madam Chair. For the DILG, I mentioned this during the DILG hearing. This is minuscule in terms of housing programs, a housing budget of P87.289 million for the DILG. For the Department of Agrarian Reform, they have a housing program for farmer beneficiaries of P1.9 billion, medyo malaki-laki po 'yon. For DSWD, they have a Poor Shelter Assistance Program of P4,150,124,000. With the permission of the committee, there is a bigger budget for the Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation has a bigger budget for a bigger housing program for families affected by 'Build, Build, Build', especially the railroads. So this is P18,950,000,000, this big. So that is the rationale, I would have wanted Sec. Del Rosario to invoke first Sec. 7 (G) of the DHSUD law, to talk directly to his colleagues in the cabinet. Malinaw 'yong batas. Kasi nakalagay sa batas, all laws, inconsistent, herewith etc. etc. But these are not self-executing as I've mentioned so sila muna 'yong mag-usap and then submit to the plenary where will the funds I've mentioned be allocated? Is it NHA for the housing of affected families of disasters? So that Sec. Del Rosario will have a clearer command and control mechanism and will not be acting again, with all due respect, as if the Office of the Secretary is separate from the entire agency. 'Yon 'yong comment kanina ni Sen. Drilon. So I lay down the requirements because I see, wala pa dito 'yong NDRRMC, OCD, they're not supposed to have a role in housing and resettlement. They had a role before during the pre-DHSUD days. But when DHSUD was created, they don't have a role in housing because the DHSUD is now mandated to study, formulate, and implement the government's housing programs. The intention of the Senate and the House of Representatives is to have one single agency to implement all of these housing programs, to have a single accountable department.

(Sen. Risa): From the 4 departments that you have mentioned, 23 billion na rin.

(Sen. Tolentino): Opo. If I may add, Madam Chair, if you would recall, during one of the confirmation hearings of Sec. Del Rosario, he was asked by Cong. Chipeco of Calamba, Laguna, how much was allocated for the railroad settlers and apparently he cannot directly answer. Because this is not latched in his department and he has no knowledge perhaps that the program would be implemented by the Department of Transportation.

(Sen. Risa): Whether Sec. Del Rosario would indeed take the first step sa kanilang counterparts o hindi, pagdating ulit sa atin, we would need to confer with the finance Vice Chairs. The others na nagso-sponsor ng budget nitong mga departmentong ito.

(Sen. Tolentino): I hope, Madam Chair, the Secretary will be proactive enough before the plenary. You can do this within one week. You can write letters to your colleagues and even invoke what transpired during this committee hearing. Invoke the law as well as the needs of the department and I'm sure they will understand. Sec. Ano already agreed perhaps the others also. Sec. Ano and Sec. Bautista are your junior officers in the Philippine Military Academy.

(Sen. Risa): Secretary, can you respond to the suggestions of Sen. Francis and Sen. Drilon.

(Sec. Del Rosario): Madam Chair, we will make the necessary presentation as soon as possible time.

(Sen. Tolentino) : Can you provide this committee copies of the letters you send to the various members of the cabinet relative to our suggestion, Secretary?

(Sec. Del Rosario): We will comply your honors.

(Sen. Tolentino): Within one week, sir?

(Sec. Del Rosario): Yes, sir.

(Sen. Tolentino) : Maraming salamat. That probably abbreviates my questioning because it answers all. Next year, we will be confronted with different issues because as I mentioned, the DHSUD has a big mandate, bigger public expectations but lesser resources. I hope you can handle bigger resources in a more efficient manner consistent with the COA rules and other regulations. Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Secretary.

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