Press Release
November 11, 2020

Manifestation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
On the general principles of the 2021 National Gov't Budget

Part 1

I would just like to spread into the record some of my concerns and actually, I'd say learning in one of the committees that I chair.

I chair the Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. And what we have realized is that during this time of COVID, it has been an opportunity for us to recognize and stare into the face that this world we are living in, as termed by the futures thinking experts, is a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. And because of that, we need to apply futures thinking in all our preparations for our country. And this is the right time to do it, during the budget.

Mr. President, dear Chair, in my own attempt to prepare a budget that builds back stronger for the DepEd, CHED, and all the SUCs, including UP and PGH that played a big role in the management of COVID, and then all the other cultural agencies, and then DOH and PhilHealth, I'd like to ask for the indulgence and support of our colleagues that in the days to come, let's always be able to take a step into the future, or as the futures thinkers like to put it, put ourselves already in the future and look back to this time and ask ourselves, what would we have done if we lived in 2020?

So if I can ask all of you, including the agency heads to imagine that you live in the year 2045, and you are looking back and say, "What should these people have done in 2020, 25 years ago, when that thing called COVID hit, when they were all walking around with masks?"

What should we have done then? So that's the question. That's how I would like to ask even our agency heads to take a few moments to think about in the days, weeks, and months to come, as they implement the budget that we will give, and me and my colleagues as we implement.

We don't have a crystal ball. But what we can do, and strategically it is being done in many countries already, is literally to map up and visualize and see what are those different alternative futures. So this could be a future where tiis muna tayo for five years but then we come back so much stronger in five years because we invested in the right programs, or nagpa-panic tayo and just plugging the gaps. And we don't do enough long-term investments para supposedly happy lang lahat. We plug the gaps for now but five years later, we are still building back the same houses, building back the same hospitals, the same classrooms, the same homes that are ruined by typhoons.

I just want to put that on record that it is our obligation to include funding for the future, not just for today. Many times, we are tempted or constrained to deal with the now, but it is really our obligation to consider the future.

There is a country that, for the budget to pass, they must be able to defend that it will serve the future 50 years from now... Sana we will get to that point where we are able to really look beyond momentarily filling the gap. Because it is a natural response by most developing countries, and I feel like we are at that point where we can dream bigger and plan better by doing that.

Just to mention, Singapore has an integrated foresight framework on urban planning, and that's setting their goals for 40-50 years. I know meron naman tayong ganyan, managed by NEDA, so I simply will reiterate my concern and request that yung budget sana natin is really aimed at different scenarios in the future. And it's incorrect for us to only plan for one future kasi it doesn't turn out that way. Katulad nito, hindi naman natin inexpect na dalawang back-to-back bagyo ang tatama sa atin. But I think part of our planning includes a budget for that. But we should not have removed all our budget and put it on COVID because these things will happen, and it has happened as we can see...

I just wanted to put on record that the Development Academy of the Philippines is already offering Futures Thinking courses. So for all our agency heads who are listening today, by all means, please send your top people there. They can also go abroad if they want. Singapore is offering... I think we have a high number of people, including from DAP... I think one of my consultants has taken that course in Singapore. And I really urge everyone to look into that.

That's all, Mr. Chair... I'd also like to greet all the agency heads who are with us today. Thank you.

Part 2

I just want to put one more thing on the record. Although I no longer chair the Committee on Women and Children, can I just spread into the record, may I ask all the vice chairs in the committees that they are handling to just check on the gender budget. There is also a misimpression na kapag sinabing gender budget, parang sa babae lang. But the reality is, 50 percent of our population are women. So a lot of this could still be related to COVID, to health, to education. But it's specifically intended to bridge any gap that women are experiencing.

So Mr. Chair, can we just ask the vice chairs to just include that in their report when they present the budgets of the other agencies. Thank you.

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