Press Release
November 10, 2020


Mr. President and dearest colleagues, in my maiden year as a vice-chair of the committee on finance, it is my honor to co-sponsor this Committee Report on House Bill No. 7727, otherwise known as the proposed General Appropriations Bill, for fiscal year 2021.

I am proud to be a member of a Senate which did not bend in the face of an unprecedented crisis - the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding fallout on the economy. We immediately passed the landmark Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws. The present P4.5 trillion budget for 2021 is the next chapter in our legislative story.

I won't delve into the details which have been ably discussed by our hardworking and intelligent Chairman, Senator Angara. Instead, I will highlight my humble contributions to the present measure. I thank the Chairman for accepting my proposals.

First, we have inserted P5 billion as subsidy for displaced public utility vehicle drivers in the form of service contracting. This will enable jeepney and bus drivers to operate while following safety protocols without sacrificing their income.

We have also increased the budget of the Civil Aviation Board by P60.81 million and provided a subsidy of P1.53 billion to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. This is in support of the aviation industry, which has suffered its own unprecedented plane-demic due to the freeze in international tourism. We note that only 1.3 million tourists arrived from January to July 2020, down by 73 percent compared to the same period last year.

For our commuters, we have placed P500 million under the Local Government Support Fund for segregated bicycle lanes and footpaths. The latter fund can be also used to build or rehabilitate public parks, which will help Filipinos who are negative for COVID but positive for cabin fever. We have also included P70 million under the Department of Public Works and Highways for PWD and senior-citizen friendly facilities.

Finally, we continue to support the DepEd's school feeding program with an additional allotment. This may be used as transportation allowance for public schools which will become padala hubs for packed lunches and learning modules. This is a school-to-stomach fund for learners who are also adjusting to off-campus learning.

In summary, Mr. President, this is a budget geared not just to "Build, Build, Build" but to "Build Back Better" from this pandemic. It is built upon lessons learned as well as the Filipino people's hopes and aspirations. It is a budget which we can gladly sign with the words: "Hindi namin iniiwan sa ere ang mga Pilipino." Thank you, Mr. President.

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