Govt’s distorted budget allocations for anti-Epal, Pamana programs hit

THE government is not starting the year right with its distorted and misappropriated budget allocations, on an election year,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano as he raised concerns with certain budget allocations of the DSWD and DBM.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) better allocate its funds to more significant programs rather than engaging in politicking with its Anti-Epal campaign under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program. DSWD reportedly allocated P10.5 million for the production and airing of TV and radio ads for the ‘Bawal ang EPAL dito campaign’ of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps). DSWD will also launch a national Anti-Epal campaign.

“Trabaho ng Comelec ang Anti-Epal at anti-electioneering. Hindi na ito saklaw ng DSWD na ang pangunahing gawain ay magbigay ng serbisyo sa mamamayan,” Mariano said also noting that Anti-Epal campaign is not in the breakdown of CCT’s budget.

“Almost one million victims of Typhoon Pablo are still in need of food aid and other needs. Based on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 800,000 people in most affected areas are still in need of food and relief assistance.

Mariano said the P10.5 million can buy 30,000 family packs of relief goods containing 12 canned goods, 3 kilos of rice, coffee, sugar and noodles at P350 per family pack.”

“It is best for the DSWD to divert its P10.5 million Anti-Epal fund to assist calamity victims and banana plantation farmers affected by Typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental,” said Mariano who noted that CCT ate majority of DSWD’s budget, including fund for disaster aid. “Despite the onslaught of calamities in the country each year, budget for disaster aid is very meager compared to CCT.”

“Just because it has multibillion funds to spend for CCT, the DSWD cannot just spend it imprudently.” Last year, the Commission on Audit questioned DSWD’s purchase of 30 units of smartphones which cost a total of P342,400 and 2011 planners worth P428,750, using CCT funds as part of its administrative costs.

“For this year, CCT got a lion’s share in the national budget with an allocation of P44 billion out of DSWD’s P55 billion budget.”

Meanwhile, the Anakpawis solon also criticized the allocation of additional budget for the government’s counterinsurgency program under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program or PAMANA.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) recently announced an additional P745.5 million budget for PAMANA to bolster peace and development activities in risk-prone areas. For 2013, PAMANA’s budget allocation is P5 billion from last year’s P1.7 billion.

“PAMANA is a counter-insurgency program under the National Internal Security Plan (NISP) disguised as a socio-economic program. The additional P745.5 million PAMANA budget will fund military operations and activities that targets farmers in hinterlands and far-flung areas,” Mariano said.

“This additional budget is better off spent for the relief and rehabilitation of thousands of banana plantation farmers in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental,” the solon said.

Mariano also asked the DBM to explain the additional P32.3 billion in new expenditure items for quick disbursing projects and programs recently approved by President Aquino. The said budget came from savings and windfall revenues.

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