Press Release
November 10, 2020

Sponsorship Speech on the FY 2021 Budget

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues in this Chamber:

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down overnight. With the spread of COVID-19 infection in the country seemingly unabated, thousands of establishments have shut down, the number of jobless Filipinos has doubled to 4.6 million, and thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been displaced from work.

The education and health sectors are also severely affected by the pandemic, with the learning of over 30 million students disrupted while the health of our frontliners continue to be under threat every single day.

Amidst these very challenging times, the Senate has been doing its job with unprecedent speed to craft crucial fiscal measures such as the Bayanihan 1 and 2 to save lives and safeguard our economy. Inspirasyon po natin sa senado ang bilis at liksi ng mga Filipino innovators na syang dahilan kaya nakapasok ang Pilipinas sa Top 20 Global Coronavirus Innovation Map at Rank 50 sa Global Innovation Index kahit sa panahon ng pandemya.

Just today Mr. President, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shared that the country's GDP recorded a decline of -11.5% in the 3rd quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Although it is in double digits, it provides a more positive outlook compared to the economic contraction of -16.9% in the 2ndquarter. Kahit paunti unti, ginoong pangulo, makakabalik tayo sa ating growth and development trajectory.

It is with great pleasure that I support the passage of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Budget, which affirms our desire to build back better as a growing nation. I sincerely commend and thank the Chair of the Committee on Finance, the hardworking chair Senator Sonny Angara who has been instrumental in setting the stage for the country's recovery.

With the strong support of our collegaues here ......Senate President Tito Sotto, Senate Presidenet Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, the good Minotor Leader Frank Drilon as well as our seatmates and colleagues, this representation has championed a number of amendments to the national budget, centered in the areas of employment recovery and reintegration, research and innovation, health, and education.

The Senate Committee Report increases the budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its attached agencies by Php 2.301 billion, increasing the agency total budget to Php 33.3 billion. This is crucial to expand assistance to workers affected by the pandemic, offer sustainable livelihood opportunities, match job seekers with job opportunities, improve our skills registry, and to sustain the ongoing emergency repatriation operation and additional assistance extended to the additional displaced OFWs next year.

Specifically, this representation proposed to increase the allocation for Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program by Php 1 billion, Adjustment Measures Program by Php 200 million, DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program by Php 200 million, Job assistance program and skills registry system by Php 20.5 million, and Emergency Repatriation Fund (ERF) of OWWA by Php 300 million.

We are also glad to report that the Senate version augments the budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) by Php 1 billion. As shared by our colleagues during the budget deliberations, now is the best time for research and innovation, and the DOST plays an indispensable role in tapping the brightest minds among our countrymen and in finding much needed solutions to the pandemic. Kahit walang natanggap mula sa Bayanihan at NBC 580 ang DOST, nakalikha sila ng medical devices, test kits, PPEs, at digital trackers na nakatulong sa ating COVID-19 response efforts.

From our end, we introduced a budget increase of Php 750 million to boost support research initiatives of the DOST. This is composed of composed of Php 350 million for Research Grants-in-Aid (GIA) in the DOST Osec, Philippine Center for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD), Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Php 300 million for Community Empowerment Through Science and Technology (CEST), and Php 100 million for Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).

Consistent with our objectives on innovation, this representation also pushed for the restoration of the Php 300 million Innovation Fund within the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which is crucial to implement the Republic Act No. 11293 or the Philippine Innovation Act that our colleagues here in the Senate worked hard to pass last year. With this, we hope to strengthen entrepreneurship and enterprises engaged in developing innovative solutions benefiting the poorest of the poor.

For education and training, we are glad to note that the advocacies we have been championing have been well-incorporated in the budget of our education institutions. Under the Senate Committee Report, the budget for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is proposed to increase by Php 620 million, the budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is proposed to increase by Php 1.351 billion, while the budget of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) are proposed to increase by Php 3.046 billion.

Such budget increase is crucial to help upskill, retrain, and retool especially our displaced workers and returning OFWs in our tech-voc institutions, as well as to ensure the effective delivery of learning in higher education institutions (HEIs) amidst the demands of the New and Better Normal.

[Specifically, we proposed an additional Php 300 million for Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) and Php 300 million for Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP). We also allotted per State University and College (SUC) an additional P1,000,000 for ICT connection and other equipment, and their cultural, sports, and other activities.]

We also championed instituting the budgets needed to effectively implement the Doktor Para sa Bayan Bill. Specifically, we introduced additional Php 600 million for the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program, Php 350 million as seed fund for the development of medical program in SUCs within the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), as well as Php 450 million to support the additional financial requirements of the three State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)--Cebu Normal University, Western Mindanao State University, and University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) to open a Doctor of Medicine program in 2021.

With these amendments to the 2021 National Budget, we seek to promote the welfare of our current and future labor force, which has always been among the greatest strengths of the Philippines. This measure arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation of Congress in history because this budget will determine the pace/trajectory of our economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Maraming salamat po at pagpalain tayo ng Panginoong Diyos.

News Latest News Feed