Press Release
November 21, 2006

Drilon presents P1.126 trillion budget for 2007
that will pursue 'growth with equity' for country

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin M. Drilon today moved for the immediate approval of the proposed P1.126 trillion national budget earlier passed by the House of Representatives but recommended substantial fund realignments to beef up allocations for public education, agriculture and agrarian reform and health services.

In his sponsorship speech, Drilon noted that with sizeable fund realignments, the Senate version of the proposed 2007 General Appropriations Bill will be one "that does not focus solely on the imperatives of economic growth" but will be "a national budget that pursues growth with equity."

"I stand before you today my esteemed colleagues humbled by the enormous task of presenting an important mechanism that will steer our economy next year; and, proud and hopeful that we are coming up with a piece of legislative work that will make a difference in the lives of 85 million Filipinos," Drilon, who is also Liberal Party president, said in his speech.

The Drilon committee proposed to provide special attention to the education, health and the agriculture sectors in the 2007 national budget in order to provide growth with equity in the country. The proposed budget was forwarded to the Senate only two weeks ago.

"The agriculture sector must be accorded the attention it deserves since as of 2005, it employed 11.63 million Filipinos or 36 percent of the country's total employment," Drilon said.

"We propose to increase Post Harvest Facilities from P1.197 to P2.694 billion, which will be distributed to different regions," Drilon said.

Drilon proposed a budget of P126.311 billion for the Department of Education or an increase of P2.8 billion over the President's proposal. The proposal will provide additional funding for the hiring of 6,390 more teachers.

"By providing P4 billion for school buildings, we are addressing squarely the classroom shortage by meeting the need for 8,362 more classrooms with each classroom accommodating 45 pupils on a double shift basis, which were not funded under the President's budget," Drilon said.

Drilon also proposed an increase of P890.477 million for the budget of the health sector for various regional hospitals and specialty hospitals including the Philippine General Hospital, as well as additional funding for immunization.

Drilon noted that despite the glowing economic reports regularly dished out by the Executive branch, the social statistics shows that there is no equitable distribution of economic fruits.

"The much-touted GDP growth is meaningless because sadly it is a jobless growth. Data from the 2006 Asian Development Bank Economic Outlook show that the Philippines registered an average unemployment rate of 11.4 percent from 2001 to 2005 the highest among the original members of the ASEAN," Drilon said.

Drilon also cited the latest SWS survey that says almost three million Filipino households are experiencing hunger.

"According to a World Bank data as reported recently in the papers, 10.8 percent of the population lives below the $1 ($1+P49) poverty line and 41.2 percent of the population live below the $2 a day poverty line in 2005," Drilon said.

"Hence, the trumpeted economic gains are hollow and empty for there is no remarkable improvement in the lives of our countrymen as millions of them remain poor and jobless. The rosy economic picture that our country's economic managers would like us to see and believe is insignificant in the life of Juan de la Cruz, who struggles everyday to look for a job and provide his family with the basic needs," Drilon noted.

"The proposed national budget for 2007 is not merely about figures and definitely not just about the allocation of government money. It is about decisions, directions, choices, and commitments. For the national budget is not just about making promises, but on making good on those promises," Drilon said.

"Our people are tired of empty rhetoric. They want to see concrete actions and results. They want to see a government which is sincerely and seriously seeking ways to significantly improve their lives. A government that provides them with opportunities and choices," Drilon noted.

"Economic growth should be felt by every Filipino man and woman on the street and in the fields; and by the Filipino child as he or she faces an unknown future. Economic growth is meaningless if most Filipinos dreadfully look into a future laden with uncertainties and insecurities," Drilon said.

To ensure timely passage of the budget bill, the finance committee started hearing the national budget in September, summoning each and every department in the bureaucracy. Drilon presided over all the committee hearings, doing away with the creation of sub-committees in marathon and extensive budget deliberations that sometimes last till late at night.

The Committee on Finance proposed the following amendments to House Bill 5794, or the GAB of 2007: new appropriation, P641,120,897,000; unprogrammed appropriation, P67,008,479,000; programmed new appropriation, P574,112,418,000; and automatic appropriation, P552, 226, 582,000.

News Latest News Feed