Press Release
September 11, 2006

Drilon: Sponsorship speech on the 2006 supplemental budget

Mr. President:

I have the honor to sponsor before this august chamber House Bill No. 5668, entitled "An Act Appropriating the Sum of FORTY SIX BILLION FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY SIX MILLION FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND Pesos (P46,426, 524.00) as Supplemental Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2006 and for other Purposes "

The passage of this bill is very urgent, Mr. President, because the FY 2005 General Appropriations Act, as reenacted, does not cover certain crucial expenditures that have to be funded this year The necessity for the immediate approval of this bill lies in the fact that under consideration here are urgent or mandatory expenditures that the country cannot afford to forego this year, hence the need for a supplemental appropriation that will authorize these expenditures

A majority of these expenditures were included in the FY 2006 General Appropriations Bill which this chamber had passed on final reading just three months ago on June 1 Extensive and incisive debates were already held in this hall in the approval of these appropriations

Mr. President, the House of Representatives passed the supplemental appropriations bill on third and final reading last August 30, 2006 After reducing the allocation for the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Commission on Elections, and the Internal Revenue Allotment, the House bill provided a P2 billion allocation for the cleanup of the Guimaras oil spill under the Calamity Fund Another P14 million was allocated for the Professional Regulation Commission, specifically for the conduct of professional examinations An additional P1 billion was also provided to the Department of Education and another P700 million to the Department of Science and Technology

After conducting meetings and hearings on this measure, Mr. President, the Committee on Finance proposes the following amendments to the appropriations measure approved by the House of Representatives

Foremost is a proposal to provide for a line-item presentation of the appropriations to ensure transparency in the allocation and use of these funds We have identified the specific programs or projects which will be funded by these appropriations given to each Department

Certain expenditures were programmed for 6 months from July to December We have revised such appropriations like hiring of additional personnel which do not need to be funded for 6 months and reduced the allocation to only 3 months from October to December

The Chairperson of the Professional Regulation Commission testified before the Committee that no re-take of the nursing board examinations will be conducted, thus, Your Committee has accordingly deleted the proposed appropriations for such activity

The subsidy to the Metro Rail Transit 3 has been reduced from the original proposal of the DBM of about P3.249 Billion to only P1.49 Billion, disapproving the request for appropriations of the DBM of Two Billion Pesos for equity rental as this was not found in the FY 2006 National Expenditure Program submitted by the Executive Department While denominated as "Equity Rental Fee", this amount was an allocation for the payment of MRT Bonds, the redemption of which the executive department suddenly finds as needed, which need it did not find at the start of 2006

Thus, we have re allocated this Two Billion Pesos DOTC budget to the schoolbuilding fund and the Guimaras Oil Spill fund

The P46.4 billion supplemental appropriation, as proposed by the Committee on Finance, consists of the following:

Department of Agrarian Reform, P4.593 billion;

Department of Education, P9.581 billion;

Department of the Interior and Local Government, P1.375 billion;

Department of Science and Technology, P700 Million;

Department of Social Welfare and Development, P269.5 Million;

Department of Transportation and Communications, P1.608 Billion;

Commission on Elections, P730.236 Million;

Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, P4.923 Billion;

Allocation to Local Government Units, P1.820 Billion;

Pension and Gratuity Fund, P4.865 Billion;

Internal Revenue Allotment (ALGU), P14.844 Billion; and

Calamity Fund, P 1.117 Billion

The biggest share in this proposed supplemental budget, amounting to P14.844 billion, is allocated for the increase of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units for this year Moreover, Sec. 3 of this bill provides that the IRA shall henceforth be automatically appropriated to ensure that the local government units are certain to timely receive their just share in the national internal revenue taxes

The House of Representatives proposed that the amount of One Billion Pesos for the construction of schoolbuildings be directly released to, and administered by the Department of Public Works and Highways In addition, to ensure the judicious use of funds and to encourage the participation of non-government organizations in the construction we have proposed that Two Hundred Fifty Million of this appropriation be made available to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and other NGOs with proven capability and track record in the construction of the public school buildings We have provided restrictions that the cost of classrooms to be constructed by NGOs shall not exceed Two Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Pesos; this is at half the cost of a classroom constructed by the DPWH We invite our colleagues Mr. President to note that we have allocated Four Hundred Million Pesos under the DEPED Budget for the payment of Unpaid Prior Year's Step Increment and other Benefits of Teaching and Non-Teaching Personnel A number of mandated benefits are authorized to be granted to government employees out of savings Most of Deped fields units don't have the necessary savings to pay off the said benefits such as, but not limited to, step increments and loyalty pay As of date more that a Billion pesos is accumulated as unpaid benefits to our teachers and other non-teaching personnel at DEPED

We also invite the attention of our colleagues to an appropriations of 3.3 Billion Pesos to provide for the deficiency of the national government share in GSIS premium contributions from July 1997 to December 1998 This budget will enable the GSIS to re-adjust the benefits of all retirees whose retirement and other benefits were reduced by reason of such deficiency in the government's counterpart contributions We must emphasize that this deficiency in premium contribution is a source of continuing frustration and disappointment among our thousands of teachers We are addressing that inequity in this budget

To ensure much needed support in the area of science and technology, we propose to retain the appropriation of P700 million for the DOST to fund the following programs of the Department : the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program in the amount of P100 million to encourage and assist Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to adopt technological innovations to improve their operations and thus boost their productivity and competitiveness, the amount of P100 million for the Techno-Gabay Program, a banner program of the DOST to bring science and technology (S&T) based information and technology services to end-users in the agriculture, forestry and natural resources sectors and the amount of P500 million for the completion of the Science Complex, operated by the UP College of Science, to serve as the national hub for research and development and application of new scientific knowledge

We have proposed to retain the appropriations included by the House of Representatives to heed the need for assistance for the victims of the disaster caused by the oil spill off the Province of Guimaras However, we propose that the Two Billion appropriations proposed by the House of Representatives be sourced as follows : 1.6 Billion Pesos under this measure under consideration, and another P400 million, to be appropriated in another measure, i.e. , House Bill No. 5679 which we sponsor together with this measure

The House of Representatives passed on August 14, 2006 House Bill No. 5679 establishing a P500 million standby fund for the repatriation and evacuation of the overseas Filipino workers and other Filipino nationals in Lebanon and other affected countries in the Middle East

While House Bill No. 5679 earmarks P500 million from our national coffers for this purpose, Mr. President, we seek to revise the proposed appropriations as originally requested by the Executive Department and propose to judiciously utilize scarce government funds for other pressing concerns of our country also

A ceasefire in Lebanon is now in effect and has led to the cessation of hostilities We do not see the need, therefore, to appropriate the entire amount of P 500 Million for such activity as originally recommended by the Department of Budget and Management

Your Committee now proposes to appropriate only Fifty Million as standby fund for the repatriation, evacuation and relief of our overseas Filipino workers, but to ensure sufficient funds for such activity,we augment this appropriation with Three Hundred Fifty Million Pesos from the Contingency Fund approved by the Board of Trustees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration for the same purpose

Recent events, Mr. President, support our contention for a much lower appropriation for the repatriation of our countrymen in Lebanon and to allocate the available funds for other urgent concerns faced by our nation

My distinguished colleagues, we propose that the bulk of the P500 billion standby fund be channeled for the clean-up of the Guimaras oil spill We seek to allocate a total of P400 million for this purpose, in addition to that proposed under House Bill No. 5668 for a total of Two Billion Pesos

My colleagues, one cannot overemphasize the need to invest funds to avert what could be an environmental catastrophe in Guimaras Billed as the worst oil spill in Philippine maritime history, the sunken MT Solar 1 tanker is said to contain 1.8 million liters more of bunker fuel that could spell more disaster for the once pristine waters, caves and coves of Guimaras and its neighboring islands Clearly, the need for concerted action not only by the stakeholders but by the whole nation is called for

Moreover, to assist those who were most affected by the disaster, we endorse the proposal of the DBM Secretary that these funds be appropriated for livelihood and other assistance to the victims of the oil spill

We also seek to appropriate another P50 million as assistance for the communities affected by the impending Mayon Volcano eruption Although there seems to be a noticeable decline in activity in Mayon Volcano in recent days, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology still has not ruled out an imminent and deadly eruption Right now, the Mayon evacuees are huddled in evacuation centers, mostly schools, and considerable resources are needed to finance their requirements for food and other health concerns

This chamber is faced with the overriding need to alleviate the plight of the hapless victims of our present-day calamities The Guimaras oil spill disaster, the war in Lebanon, and the Mayon Volcano eruption have made life much more difficult for the victims of these tragedies But hope abides in our hearts that through this standby fund, we can somehow lighten the load of our suffering countrymen, helping them surmount the challenges hurled by such natural or man-made disasters that hound our country

Mr. President, Your Committee on Finance, therefore, proposes a total of Forty Six Billion Nine Twenty Six Million Pesos under House Bill No. 5668 and House Bill No. 5679 as supplemental appropriations for this year In view of the necessity of these appropriation measures, Mr. President, the immediate approval of these bills is earnestly sought

Thank you

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