Duterte to sign 2020 nat’l budget on January 6, Palace confirms

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 3, 2020   •   595

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during his visit to the earthquake victims at the M’lang National High School in Cotabato on December 30, 2019. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang has confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte will sign the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget on Monday (January 6).

Presidential Legislative Liason Office Secretary Adelino Sitoy said there will be a presidential ceremonial signing at the Malacañang Palace on Monday.

However, Sitoy did not confirm if the president will veto provisions in the said budget.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the president did not mention about a possible veto.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has finished the review of the General Appropriations Bill last week.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to announce final decision on reduced physical distancing in public transport

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte will make his final decision on Thursday (September 17) regarding the reduction of physical distancing in public transportation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said doctors have opposing opinions on the matter and added that last meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Against COVID-19 even took six hours discussing the issue.

“Ang mga doctor iba-iba rin po ang mga pananaw. Wala pong isang opinyon pagdating dito sa pagbawas ng isang dangkal lang naman na social distancing sa pampublikong mga transportation (Our doctors have varying opinions. There is no unified opinion when it comes to social distancing in public transportation),” he said on Wednesday (September 16) during a press briefing.

Roque also said the IATF based their recommendation to reduce physical distancing on research and advice from doctors.

“Ang rekomendasyon po ay isusumite kay Preisdente. Si Presidente na po ang magde-decide (The recommendation has been submitted to the President and he will be the one to decide), Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte approves filing of cases against Morales, et al

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the filing of charges against former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) CEO Ricardo Morales and other officials allegedly involved in the ‘mass corruption’ inside the agency.

“The issue of PhilHealth corruption was really an important issue to the Filipinos and to everybody. And everybody again is also placed in jeopardy by the actions of the officials,” the President said.

“I’m sorry for them but you have to undergo trial. Although they can always prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence still attaches but the report of another agency says otherwise. So ganun ang nangyari sa PhilHealth. Halos lahat sa board,” he added.

Based on the investigation of Task Force PhilHealth, several officials have violations of withholding taxes regarding the interim reimbursement mechanism, graft, and malversion. They will also be facing charges for dishonesty, grave misconduct, disloyalty, gross neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence, as well as falsification of public documents.

The officials who will be facing the said charges aside from Morales are Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco Jr., Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Officer-in-Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., Senior Vice President Israel Pargas, Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus, and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who is also leading the Task Force PhilHealth, said they are still continuing their investigation.

“Our composite teams will continue their ongoing investigations and special audits and file legal actions as they finish one case after another,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth released a statement saying the involved officials are prepared to follow the President’s mandate and will cooperate in the process. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

SAP will no longer be funded under proposed 2021 national budget —DBM

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2020

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said there will be no budget to be allotted for the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) under the proposed 2021 National Budget.

DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado said they expect the economy to recover next year with additional job opportunities available.

He also clarified that there will still be an allotted budget for the regular programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“We’re looking at the improvement in the economy and the opportunity for people to be able to work already. And we still have the regular programs, the 4Ps your honor, that will be continued,” he said on Wednesday (September 9) during a Senate hearing.

Under the proposed P4.5 trillion budget, P171 billion will be allotted to the DSWD. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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