Press Release
November 18, 2020

Up to P10.5-B needed to create 7 departments, including proposed Dep't of Resilience - Drilon

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon underscored the huge budgetary implications of creating new departments, including the proposed Department of Resilience, which will amount to P10.5 billion a year for salaries and operating expenses.

"Ang kailangan natin ngayon ay dagdag na calamity fund, hindi dagdagan ang bilang ng secretary, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, regional directors at assistant regional directors," Drilon said in an interview with DzBB.

In the Senate, there are various bills calling for creations of at least seven departments: disaster resilience, OFWs, Water, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Sports, Homeland Security, and Culture.

Drilon said what the country needs in order to respond fully to the onslaught of the typhoons and the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is to increase the calamity fund, not create new departments.

"Karagdagang gastos lang ang bawat departamento na itatayo natin," he stressed, citing an estimated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that to create the propose Department of Resilience will entail P1.5 billion yearly.

Drilon said that there is no need to create for a separate department, reiterating that such will only bloat the bureaucracy. At present, the national government has to allocate P1.1 trillion this year and P1.3 trillion next year for the salaries of around 1.8 million civil servants.

"Ang dapat ay dagdagan ang calamity fund at palakasin ang NDRRMC (National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Council). We support the strengthening of NDRRMC rather than making a new department," he said.

He reiterated that the P20 billion allocation for calamity funds for next year is inadequate, citing the heavy damage to agriculture and infrastructure brought about by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.

This year's appropriation for calamity fund is only P16 billion, a decrease of P4 billion from 2019, he noted.

Drilon reiterated that it is best to tackle and approve the rightsizing measure, proposed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, to address the bloated bureaucracy before discussing the creation of new agencies.

The minority leader also threw support to a proposal of Senator Panfilo Lacson for a "dedicated office under the Office of the President with a Cabinet rank and full authority to mobilize concerned government agencies before, during, and after calamities."

Drilon cited the creation of a typhoon task force headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is a good start to fast-track the oversee disaster response efforts and facilitate speedy release of funds.

"I support Sen. Lacson's proposal. Given our experience, a task force will not be effective unless it is headed by somebody in power like the executive secretary," he said.

Meanwhile, during the continuation of the Senate's deliberation on the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget, the Senate chief fiscalizer said there is no point to extend the validity of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) if it cannot be supported by funds.

"Our problem is, we need funds. Given the reality that our revenues are down, we should open ourselves to a higher deficit and higher borrowing. Even if we extend the validity of the Bayanihan 2, if we cannot back it up with funds, either through revenues or borrowings, then it is a useless exercise," Drilon said.

"The executive should cooperate by releasing funds," he lamented. He cited, for instance, that of the P6 billion under SB Corporation to help small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector, only P1 billion was released.

"We have 26,000 pending applications for loans but we cannot process it because there is no fund. Even if we can extend Bayanihan 2 but there is no fund, that's useless," he said.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government does not need additional borrowings from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for now, saying that they rely on the government's various fiscal programs.

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