Press Release
November 16, 2020

Manifestation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
On the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

I will just spread into the record some of my concerns. As long as the agency heads would hear this, I am happy with that, and to the extent that it may be the basis for some proposed amendments, I will just be putting it on record so the Chair can hear it. Thank you. I will proceed, with his Honor's permission.

We recognize that the job of our DBM Secretary is not an easy one. The allocation of very scarce resources is definitely a difficult task. Nevertheless, I ask for everyone's indulgence. I repeat. We have the SDGs, which were formulated worldwide. The Philippines was part of it in formulating these guidelines. So it's not very difficult.

I have quite a high level of frustration because our discussions shift from one disaster or one problem that we are faced with to another, depending on what happens at the time we have our debates. But if we would be able to stick and to support the SDGs and use foresight in determining what are the likelihoods of a more immediate crisis hitting us, it would be not as difficult to allocate those scarce resources.

So I would begin with an example. Thankfully, we have more time to prepare. This is not even for the 2021 budget, but I am mentioning it now so that 365 days from now, our Chairman will have an easier time, hopefully, with this issue. The Mandanas ruling will come into effect in 2022. And my proposal is, to spread into the record, for our audience who do not know what that is, the Mandanas ruling would require that the national government release more than one trillion pesos now to the LGUs, so they would have additional budget. And my proposal would be that the use of this budget, with all due respect to their autonomy, and still respecting that autonomy, be dedicated specifically to SDGs.

I have attended World Bank forums wherein there are certain countries that require that for every budget proposed, it should be directly attributable to the accomplishment of an SDG. So that should be our guide. I wanted to keep it short earlier when I also made my manifestation on NEDA, but I failed to emphasize that point also, that when we allocate resources, when we look at where we put our funding for development, it's easy, it should not be that difficult to put a number to it, put a budget to it, and to see how far this takes us in terms of achieving our SDGs.

Because patong-patong na yan. When we look at Sustainable Communities, affected doon an access to clean water. We are talking about the availability of water now. Affected doon ang hunger, because they are hungry now because wala silang livelihood, na-cut off ang kanilang access to food. Aside from the fact na education is very much impared because of COVID. So I can go on and on how integrated these SDGs are. Huwag na natin pahirapan ang sarili natin by funding the SDG studies so that we can come up with our priorities easier.

Another issue directly related to this is the limit on spending for personal services. I am sure our colleagues have all had discussions with LGU representatives who will tell us that tali ang kamay nila. So even now, in the time of COVID, a lot of them can't even hire the needed health personnel because they are already at their limit for the personnel services. So how do we address this? Every year, we go through this, and then naja-job order din ang iba sa kanila or they do not even hire at all. So we won't be able to empower the LGUs to make the decisions that they need to make if we do not address this perennial problem.

Speaking of sustainable cities, I cannot help but mention a sustainable city model, and that is no less than New Clark City. ADB has released a video that they used to promote themselves as the financial advisers of NCC, pinagyayabang nila itong PPP model. And New Clark City is actually climate change resilient. I do not know of any other city in our country that can make that claim, na climate change resilient sila. So it's a model that we should be looking into rather than criticizing at this point. And I hope this is something that can be further emulated because all over the world, it's being used as a model by ADB.

My final point is in relation to MMDA. As I understand, MMDA is under DBM. In the last few months, we have been discussing or at least it has been in the news, about our mass transportation system and more details on this obviously would be better discussed in the budget of DOTr.

But insofar as MMDA is concerned, and EDSA, i need to put that on record because EDSA is the main artery of Metro Manila. And we have tIe Bus Rapid Transit, which I think is kinda in limbo. I was so excited because in the early days, this was supposed to take off. I don't expect a reply, I will get that from DOTr directly, but I am putting that out because partnered with the Bus Rapid Transit ias aslo water vehicles in the Pasig River, and something that I believe is close to the heart of our Majority Floor Leader, because last year, he delivered a very moving speech on the need for walkways in EDSA. that is something I also support. I do not know where the budget is right now, I understand that there's a bit of resistance on the part of DBM. I wouldn't know why, but the reason really, I don't understand why we cannot start funding. If I recall, the Majority Floor Leader said it was... Or even followup calls to MMDA, we are just in the feasibility part. And this walkway would not only decongest Metro Manila traffic but we could also address pollution, it can also be a means of preventing flood because elevated itong mga walkways.

So I want to just point that out and because I know that the secretaries are very open to hearing our comments, I can just call them directly. But I wanted to spread these concerns of mine on the record and hope that we can start funding the study for this. Because if we don't start now, we will never start.

Thank you!

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