Dinky still doesn’t get it, says Casiño

SOCIAL Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman misses the point about the questions raised about her department’s extravagant purchase of vehicles.

“In the first place, no one said they were purchasing 14 SUVs. Based on the DSWD’s bidding documents, we said they were purchasing 14 expensive 4×4 pick-up trucks and three SUVs,” explained Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.

Casiño continued: “I said the planned purchase was lavish and she should know this, coming from the NGO community herself where resources are always maximized.”

“Our point was that the budgeted amount, at an average of P1.4 million for the pick-up and P1.5 million for the SUV, is lavish considering next year’s cuts in the budgets of public hospitals and state colleges as well as cuts in agriculture, agrarian reform, irrigation, electrification, OFW support and other basic services,” said Casiño.

The lawmaker said he raised the issue in the light of pronouncements by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that no new vehicles will be purchased this year and next year due to the new administration’s austerity measures.

“Secretary Soliman herself admitted that the funds for the vehicles were realigned from the department’s 2008 savings from its ‘Pantawid’ (4P) program, meaning it wasn’t in the DSWD’s original plans,” he said.

“They had extra money but instead of remitting it back to the treasury, they decided to buy expensive vehicles. It does not matter that this realignment was approved by the previous administration. The fact is that Dinky has given the go-signal for this purchase of 17 vehicles,” Casiño stressed.

In a statement last week, Soliman admitted that In 2009, the department already acquired 11 brand new 4×4 vehicles.

“So, after acquiring 11 in 2009, they realigned the budget to acquire 17 more in 2010. Will they be realigning some more in 2011, considering that the budget for the 4P program has dramatically increased to P29 billion?” asked Casiño.

He added that in his experience, dual-type jeepneys are often better at delivering relief goods and personnel to the most far-flung villages.

“Ang ganitong high-end 4 X 4 pick-ups ay ginagamit lang pang hatid-sundo sa mga officials at VIPs. It’s not cost-effective to maintain,” he said.

Casiño said he will be raising these and other issues in tomorrow’s deliberations on the DSWD budget.

“I am just raising the issue in the hope that there will be a better allocation of much-needed resources in the national budget,” Casiño said.  D’Jay  Lazaro

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