Duterte appoints Antonio Parlade to Nat’l Security Council

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2021   •   373

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed retired military general Antonio Parlade as deputy director general of the National Security Council (NSC), Malacañang said Thursday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the president signed Parlade’s appointment on Sept. 8.

Parlade retired as head of the military’s Southern Luzon Command in July.

“Deputy Director-General Parlade faithfully served the Armed Forces of the Philippines for many years until his retirement from the service,” Roque said.

“We are therefore confident that his length of fruitful service in the military would immensely contribute in the crafting of plans and policies affecting national security,” he added.

Parlade previously served as spokesperson for the government’s Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict.

He became controversial for his remarks linking some organizers of community pantries to the communist group. Some senators even called for his resignation and proposed defunding the task force over the issue.

In a separate statement, Parlade thanked Duterte for the “renewed trust and confidence.”

“Another opportunity to continue serving our people in a different capacity. Time to take care of unfinished business,” he said.

Palace thanks Congress for speedy ratification of 2022 national budget

Robie de Guzman   •   December 16, 2021

Acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday thanked Congress for its efforts to immediately ratify the proposed P5 trillion national budget for the year 2022.

“The Palace thanks Congress for working overtime to expeditiously ratify the proposed 2022 National Budget,” acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

Nograles said next year’s budget vital to the country’s response and recovery efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We consider next year’s budget vital to support our country’s COVID-19 resilience initiatives and to sustain our socioeconomic recovery efforts,” he said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral committee report on the proposed 2022 budget.

The country’s budget for next year will have as much as P50 billion for special risk allowances for medical frontliners, almost P48 billion for COVID-19 booster shots, and P15 billion to P16 billion for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), based on portions approved by he House.

The measure will now be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for his approval and signature.

“As we await its transmittal to the Office of the President, we reiterate our commitment to utilize our people’s hard-earned money to properly implement programs, projects, and services effectively and efficiently during the remainder of the President’s term of office,” Nograles said.

“We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature for ensuring that the Duterte Administration’s last full-year budget will sustain the legacy of real change for future generations,” he added.

Lawmakers earlier expressed hope that Duterte will sign the measure before the year ends to avoid a reenacted budget.

House solons want Bicam to prioritize COVID-19 response budget in deliberation

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the House of Representatives are hoping that the deliberation in the Bicameral Conference Committee will give priority to the COVID-19 response budget which they are pushing to receive bigger funding.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said that with the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease, the government must set a bigger budget for a pandemic response for 2022.

“Nagluwag, pero eto may pumasok na naman. Itong Omicron variant na hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang magiging extent nung pananalasa nito. Kaya dapat lang talaga yung kalakhan ng budget ay nakatuon duon sa pandemic responses,” said Zarate.

In the Senate’s approved version of the Php5.024-trillion 2022 proposed national budget, the Department of Health budget was increased to Php230.11-billion. This is higher than the approved version of the House which is Php182.67-billion.

Senators realigned the budget of other government agencies to fund the benefits and compensation of healthcare workers.

Zarate said the Bicam must make some more cuts on the budget that the Senate has approved for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) amounting to around Php10-billion from the Php4-billion that the Upper Chamber has initially allotted to the said task force.

Zarate said the budget that is to be slashed from NTF-ELCAC must be added to the funds to be used in the COVID-19 response.

House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Representative Eric Go Yap said that even if there are contradicting provisions in the two versions, they will see to it that the 2022 budget will give weight to the COVID-19 response.

“While there may be conflicting provisions between the two, rest assured that our common end goal is to submit a budget that will sustain our COVID-19 response efforts while supporting our gradual transition to full recovery,” Yap said.

The national budget is targeted to be submitted to the Office of the President before December 25 for President Rodrigo Duterte. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Senate approves Php5-T 2022 national budget

Maris Federez   •   December 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has approved on final reading the proposed Php5-trillion 2022 national budget.

Twenty-two senators voted in favor of House Bill 10153 or the General Appropriations Bill containing the proposed 2022 national budget.

On Wednesday’s session, Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Sonny Angara read out before the plenary some of the amendments made in the budget.

These include the line item for the special risk allowance and benefits of healthcare workers amounting to over Php50-billion.

Adjustments were also made for the COVID-19 human resource for health emergency hiring, operations for national reference laboratories such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the hiring and training of 25,000 contact tracers.

“Our health sector will continue to receive a significant portion of the national budget with the Department of Health receiving over Php230-billion, much higher than the Php182-billion it was appropriated under the GAB passed by the House,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, part of the budget cuts made under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) funds was restored, giving it a Php10.8-billion budget.

The earlier version of the budget in the Senate Finance Committee report reduced the Php28-billion proposed fund for the NTF-ELCAC to Php4-billion but several senators appealed for the restoration of the budget.

Also included in the social programs are the Social Amelioration Program with Php5-billion fund; social pension for indigent senior citizens with over Php25-billion; assistance to individuals in crisis situations, and the integrated livelihood program of the Labor Department.

Angara added that they included significant funding for free COVID-19 testing for jobseekers, noting that many employers are hesitant to accept new job applicants who are unable to show proof that they are negative for COVID-19.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will now proceed with the Bicameral Conference Committee to reconcile conflicting provisions of both versions of the two chambers.

The Senate contingent will be led by Angara with members, namely: Senators Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri, Cynthia Villar, Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa, Pia Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Christopher Bong Go, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, and Nancy Binay.

The Senate plans to submit the final version of the proposed national budget to President Rodrigo Duterte before December 25. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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