2013 nat’l budget: The height of Aquino’s deception – Rep. Palatino

SA ATING bayan, tatlo ang panahon – tag-ulan, tag-init, at eleksyon.

And the election fever has indeed pervaded even the pages of one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress passes annually – the General Appropriations Bill.

No less than the Aquino administration has branded the P2-trillion national budget for 2013 as an “empowerment budget” that will benefit the people, targeting the poor and the marginalized.

As discussions in Congress have revealed, the budget that was passed on third reading today is loaded with more pork, dole-outs, and fat bonuses. It would even be more appropriate to call it an “election budget” which will benefit PNoy’s coterie of political butterflies, especially those in the ruling Liberal party, said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino.

The Department of Education, as expected, received the biggest share in the budget among all government agencies. The agency’s P292.7 billion allocation, however, is way below the P334 billion proposed budget that is required for the successful implementation of the K-12 program in the next school year.

The Department of Public Works and Highways received the second biggest allocation in the government budget after DepEd, receiving P152.9 billion in total. The government dubbed DPWH as the overall agency in charge of all government infrastructure projects, a suspicious move especially as the national elections fast approaches.

Palatino said “at first glance, one might not see anything sinister in this categorization. But we want to ask – did the government centralize all infrastructure projects to one agency to make it more convenient for its cohorts to receive kickbacks from overpriced and anomalous projects? Instead of talking to various line agencies, politicians will now only deal with DPWH.  One agency for the spoils, one-stop-shop for corruption deals.”

And it goes more blatant from here. The budget that we are about to pass will allow a “nationwide hiring spree,” as it includes over P60 billion to fund the hiring of over 160,000 new state workers. This only means that, despite the Palace’s repeated denials, the government did unnecessary underspending in the past two years and now has the funds for a hiring binge in time for the elections, he said.

The government doesn’t stop here. The Aquino regime will try to win the people’s votes with additional funds for the Conditional Cash Transfer program. Instead of directly investing in social service programs, the government has decided to expand the CCT dole-out by increasing its allocation in the 2013 budget from P39 billion to P44 billion, Palatino added.

Meanwhile, the PAMANA peace and development program, which is the other less controversial CCT of the government in remote villages, was given a budget of P5 billion compared to this year’s P1.7 billion budget.

Palatino disclosed that while the budget for PAMANA was included in the allocation for several other government agencies, the P5-billion fund remains to be under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ control.

When we asked OPAPP what is the extent of their role in handling these funds, they said that they will only monitor and provide oversight. Yet the departments with PAMANA allocation are not sure where to use these funds, making it appear that OPAPP will directly control this budget, he said.

He said “the Aquino regime should not brag about this so-called “empowerment budget.” This holds true, even for the budget of state universities and colleges.”

Malacanang and DBM should not brag the reported increase in the SUCs budget. The P37.1 billion proposed budget is still grossly insufficient if we consider the total proposal of SUCs for 2013, which adds up to P54.6 billion. What’s more, the P37.1 billion proposed budget is still grossly insufficient if we consider the total proposal of SUCs for 2013, which adds up to P54.6 billion.

The DBM-proposed budget for SUCs is only 67.98 percent of the total requirement of 110 SUCs. DBM data also reveal that the P37.1 billion DBM-approved budget for SUCs next year is actually P17.5 billion less than the actual need of SUCs.

The Commission on Higher Education itself admitted that the budget for SUCs is still insufficient. In a statement released on August 17, CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan said, “The 2013 SUCs budget may not be enough. But it is a substantial increase and is good for now.”

Palatino said “the 2013 national budget marks the height of Aquino’s deception. Padding the budget in a manner which does not address the needs of the poor and the marginalized is not what the youth demanded.”

He said the youth will not accept this cover-up budget. The youth will not accept this electioneering scam. Even with the passage of the 2013 General Appropriations Bill, we will continue the fight for sufficient state subsidy – from the august halls of Congress up to the streets

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