In Spirit of Transparency: Lacson Bares Amendments for Education, Connectivity, Defense in 2022 Budget
December 2, 2021 at 11:59 am, No comments
In the spirit of transparency, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" M. Lacson has made public his proposed institutional amendments to the 2022 budget bill, seeking to slash questionable appropriations and to ensure enough funding for priority programs, activities and projects as he has consistently done in previous years.
Lacson, who has served as a strict watchdog of the budget, proposed reducing funds for items such as farm-to-market roads and right-of-way payments to fund key programs on education, connectivity, anti-cybercrime and defense needs for the coming year.
His proposed amendments include some P300 million to improve the facilities in Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, which he visited last Nov. 20.
One of Lacson's proposed amendments involves an increase for the "connectivity load" for teachers and DepEd personnel to deliver online lessons amid the pandemic, based on estimates that 20 GB would be consumed if a teacher does continuous online teaching for 20 days at 4 hours per day.
"To pursue the meaningful benefits of 'connectivity load' with significant savings for the government, an increase in the appropriations for the connectivity load for 1 million DepEd personnel is hereby proposed. To this end, increase the appropriations of the MOOE of DepEd by P1 billion or from P2.30 billion to P3.30 billion," he said.
Lacson likewise introduced a special provision allowing local government units to directly contract the services of transport cooperatives - empowering LGUs to co-implement, collect fares and co-finance service contracting.
"This would lighten the load of the Department of Transportation and speed up the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program as the transport sectors may properly be represented by their respective LGUs. This would also ensure that the drivers are given fair wage and humane working conditions," he said.
In the list of institutional amendments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee under Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, Lacson proposed slashes to the appropriations of:
* Department of Agriculture:
- a P1.97-billion decrease in the proposed appropriations for farm-to-market roads, from P6.95 billion in the House version of the budget to P4.98 billion, as specified in the National Expenditure Program. Lacson noted that under the Supreme Court's Mandanas ruling and Executive Order 138 mandating full devolution of functions, implementation of farm-to-market program should be transferred to local government units. Also, there was no consultation made with the DA before the increase in the funding.
* Department of Environment and Natural Resources:
- a P2-billion reduction for the National Greening Program from P3.68 billion to P1.68 billion due to adverse COA performance audit in 2019
* Department of Public Works and Highways:
- P1-billion deduction from P3.01 billion in MOOE for the routine maintenance of national roads;
- P200-million deduction from P710 million for the routine maintenance of public buildings;
- P500-million deduction from the P1.61-billion allocation for flood control and drainage systems;
- P1.36-billion deduction from P4.56-billion allocation in the central office for preliminary engineering/detailed engineering of various DPWH projects; P300-million deduction from the P800 million for feasibility study including business case study for potential Public-Private Partnership projects;
- P600-million deduction from P1.6-billion allocation for parcellary surveys, land appraisal and titling of public infrastructures (including taxes);
- P500-million deduction from right-of-way payments for various ongoing and future projects;
- P100-million deduction from EDSA rehabilitation and improvement;
- P500-million deduction in lump sums; and
- P44-million deduction from each regional allocation for structural improvement of public buildings and construction of evacuation centers, totaling P704 million. (PR)
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