Press Release
July 26, 2016

2017 budget must reflect SONA promises - Recto

President Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) promises should find expression in the 2017 national budget "because without funding, they will remain as empty pledges," Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said.

"Rhetoric must be translated to reality and the way to do it is through general appropriations. Promises are given in the SONA and are redeemed in the budget," Recto said.

"A SONA is a major assumption of the budget. The one for next year must allocate funds that will carry out what he promised the people last Monday," Recto said.

He reminded Cabinet members to check "kung ang mga binanggit ba ng Pangulo ay kasama sa mga prayoridad na popondohan ng kanilang mga ahensya."

While not all programs the chief executive spelled out in his maiden SONA may require funding, "some must be attached to peso signs."

He cited, as one example, Duterte's promise to help Filipinos in distress abroad.

Based on the 2016 General Appropriations Act, the Department of Foreign Affair's (DFA) Assistance to Nationals Fund and Legal Assistance Fund is at P400 million and P100 million respectively, while DOLE has a P50 million Emergency Repatriation Program lodged in the Labor secretary's office to bring home Filipinos caught in difficult circumstances abroad.

Duterte's pledge to provide rice subsidy to poor families must also be funded, Recto said.

"Saan ilalagay ang pondo? Sa DSWD ba o sa Department of Agriculture? " Recto queried. "If DSWD will become the national rice dispenser, will its 2016 budget of P110.82 billion be hiked?"

One of Duterte's flagship programs-the war against illegal drugs-has triggered "this large exodus of drug users to a new life," Recto said.

"The President said government will help addicts reform. There is a national shortage of rehab centers. I hope there will be funding to address this in the 2017 budget. For the campaign against drugs to succeed, it must have a rehabilitative component," Recto said.

To stamp out other crimes, Recto is urging the government to allocate funds for firearms for 16,140 "gunless" policemen and to fill 24,000 vacant uniformed positions in the Philippine National Police.

Recto said Duterte's pledge "to make more trains run on time and lay more railroad tracks" will definitely require money.

"Will this be in the national budget as subsidy to rail riders again? Will it be in the form of PPP (Public Private Partnership)? And if money is given, what will be the assurance that it will be spent on time?" Recto asked.

For 2016, total rail sector funding in the national budget is at P12.02 billion, with MRT and LRT given P9.40 billion while P2.62 billion has been allotted for PNR. A recent COA report however has reprimanded DOTC for failing to obligate P33.45 billion.

Recto said Duterte's assurance that more free public WiFi areas will be put up will mean that the project, a brainchild of Recto who sponsored its funding and legislation in the Senate, will be sustained.

For 2016, the WiFi project has a budget of P1.6 billion, enough to install hotspots in 1,435 municipalities. "If we are going to roll out more, then how much will be allocated next year?" Recto said.

The "no demolition without relocation" will remain a good slogan unless more funds are allocated for housing.

For 2016, the total housing and community expenditures is P33.48 billion, with the National Housing Authority getting its lion's share of P30.48 billion. "Will there be a housing budget boom?" Recto said.

Latest government figures pegged the housing backlog at 3.92 million in 2011, with housing need increasing by an average of 345,941 units annually.

The 2017 national budget, with a reported tentative funding level of P3.3 billion, is expected to be submitted to Congress on August 15.

News Latest News Feed