Press Release
May 2, 2021

Drilon backs P24-B wage subsidy for private sector workers, urges realignment of over P556-B items in 2021 GAA to fund COVID-19 response, ayuda

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon expressed support for the P24-billion wage subsidy program for private sectors workers and urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately recommend to the President the realignment of unutilized special purpose funds (SPFs) and unobligated or unreleased balances of budget items in the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) including the P19 -billion anti-insurgency funds to fund the proposed wage subsidy and expand the government's financial aid to the poor.

"I support the proposed wage subsidy for private sector workers. The subsidy will enable small and medium enterprises to retain their employees and prevent further job losses," said the former labor secretary in a statement on Sunday.

He noted the 4.4 million Filipinos who went jobless in 2020, equivalent to 10% unemployment rate.

Drilon said that his study of the 2021 GAA shows that there are P556.49 billion items in the budget that can be realigned to fund the much-needed "ayuda" to the private sector workers and poor Filipinos.

"I urge the DBM to immediately recommend to the President the realignment of these huge allocations in the budget. There is no harm if we postpone some of these items and use the unutilized and unobligated balances to feed millions of Filipinos who are struggling to put food on the table and keep the jobs of thousands, if not million, Filipinos," Drilon said.

Among the items that can be the source of realignments, according to Drilon, are the special purpose funds that only require the approval of the President in order for them to be released and utilized, including the P13 billion contingent fund and P4.5 billion in confidential and intelligence funds.

He also renewed his call to realign the P19 billion anti-insurgency fund, of which P16.4 billion will go to more than 800 insurgency-free barangays.

"This anti-insurgency program can wait so we can reallocate the funds to more important and high-impact programs such as a wage subsidy and ayuda. The GAA allows the use of this fund for financial subsidy," he added.

Drilon also cited the huge allocations for various infrastructure projects under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

"Aanhin natin ang kalsada ngayon kung kumakalam naman ang sikumura ng libu-libo nating kababayan?" Drilon said.

He said that given the pandemic, he is certain that a significant portion of the budget of the DPWH for 2021, even for 2020, remains unutilized.

"Given the absorptive capacity of DPWH and the continuing pandemic, DPWH will not be able to implement and construct all these local roads, bridges and multi-purpose halls this year. We can put to good use these funds to provide food on the table of Filipinos who went hungry and lost jobs," Drilon said.

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