Press Release
August 7, 2018

Press Statement of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
First downpayment of P2 T BOL cost must be made in 2019 budget

Like every law, BOL has a cost. Scratch the surface of every provision, and a price tag lies underneath.

Unfortunately, we still do not know the full cost of this measure. What we have are estimates and approximations.

What we were told were the programs and the projects, but not their price. This bill is a ledger of intentions, without tallying the cost of each.

But the BOL is our promissory note to a people. And it is now up to us to redeem every single item promised therein. We must not default.

Whatever the amount, we must fund it. A costly peace is better than a cheap war.

During the debates, I ran numbers on what the BBL will cost. My estimate, up to the last minute of floor discussions, remained unrefuted.

Using the all-in, zero-based budgeting approach, this bill will cost P369 billion in the first three years, P109 billion in the first year, and P1.981 trillion for 10 years.

But let me just point out that in the fiscal universe, the P2 trillion 10-year price tag of the BBL is a meteorite.

It represents a mere 3 percent of the projected cumulative national government budget of P66 trillion from 2019 to 2028.

And these are just the minimum. Not factored in are mandates whose budgets are incalculable at present.

Not included, for example, are social entitlements like the 4Ps, Senior Pension, whose tabs, rightly so, must be picked up by the national government.

Not included is the annual outlay for the maintenance of airports, wharves, roads, bridges and irrigation, which would remain a national government obligation.

Not included are the amounts for innocuously-termed mandates such as "development programs and projects" and "normalization, rehabilitation and development" and "central government assistance" -- the nature of which stands unspecified.

There are many similar provisions, which may read harmless, but have concealed peso signs.

But our failure to peg the costs of these programs should not increase the risk of this law becoming an unfunded mandate.

It is up to this government to make the first down payment through the 2019 national budget. The cost of the BOL must be included in next year's GAA.

The funding lack can be arrived at by using this formula: Add the proposed allocations for ARMM for 2019, the IRA, and funds lodged with national agencies, and deduct these from BOL mandates.

Open government means open budgeting, and open budgeting requires open tabulation of costs. And in this rule, we expect all recipients of taxpayers' money to comply, without exemption.

Because ultimately it is the taxpayer, from Batanes to General Santos City, who will foot this bill.

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