Press Release
November 8, 2023


Senator Chiz Escudero vowed to scrutinize the proposed ?5.768 trillion 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) once it is taken up at the plenary to ensure that next year's national budget truly supports the needs of the people.

In a media interview yesterday morning, Escudero disclosed he will give special attention to the three sectors that he has been championing since entering government service, namely, the local government units (LGUs), education and agriculture.

"Tatlong bagay ang prioridad na tututukan ko kaugnay sa ating 2024 budget," the veteran legislator said, three days after Senate President Miguel Zubiri received from House Speaker Martin Romualdez the GAB on Saturday. It was sponsored by Sen. Sonny Angara at yesterday's plenary session.

Escudero's three-point priority will be to bring back the concept of "parametric insurance" to facilitate the payment and release of funds to affected local governments in times of disasters; make sure payments are made to the State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) for the extra amount they spent in 2022 and 2023 in the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA); and craft a budget for the Department of Agriculture (DA) that will support the priority programs of the new secretary.

"I would like to bring back the parametric insurance in so far as providing insurance coverage to often calamity-stricken areas, particularly the eastern seaboard of the country," Escudero said. "Parametric insurance is based on how strong the typhoon signal was. Kung signal number 1 iyan, ganito lang ang bayad, signal number 2 ganito naman, etc. Total payout na 'yun. Hindi na kailangan ang inspection at madaling mare-release ang pera."

The senator said it was the practice until Congress removed it in 2019 and he hopes to bring the system back in the 2024 national budget.

"It will be under the Calamity Fund (CF). We did that before and we intend to do that again. We initially allocated only P1 billion to pay for the premiums," he pointed out, adding that the insurer will be the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

"Maliit lang premium pero malaki ang payout. Can you imagine, P1 billion lang inallocate natin to pay for premiums in 2018, and what we got was P7 billion. So, the government can do well to do this again and charging it against the Calamity Fund thereby multiplying the potential benefits the CF can give to the affected areas," he said.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, Escudero said he is bound to correct the deficiencies "not only in the basic education sector but in the higher education sector, too."

"Given that we have unpaid fees in the Free Tertiary Education Act to about 80 SUCs, we would seek to correct that in the 2024 budget," Escudero said.

On the DA budget and support to the agriculture sector, the Bicolano senator said he will help the newly-appointed Agriculture Secretary Francis Tiu Laurel realign available funds in order for him to do his job well.

"Again, for reference purposes, the flood control item in the DPWH budget is P215 billion while the budget for the entire agriculture sector is only P181 billion. Hindi naman tama at makatarungan iyon," he stressed.

"Secretary Tiu Laurel can still realign the budget for agriculture for 2024 to suit his priorities and his programs. Tandaan n'yo, ang nag-prepare naman ng budget na ito, hindi siya. So, baka yun mga priority and programs diyan, hindi aligned sa pinag-usapan nila ni Pangulong Marcos. So tamang-tama lang ito, ma-adjust pa 'yung budget so he could actually perform and do what he intends to do and give him the support he needs on the part of congress," Escudero said.

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