House members push for a bigger budget for DOST in 2020

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019   •   1968

The first Philippine-made train developed by DOST that takes the PNR Tutuban-Alabang route. | Photo courtesy of DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute

Members of the House of Representatives are pushing for a bigger budget for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2020.

The DOST’s budget proposal is P20.18 billion, which is P79.85 million lower than its 2019 allocation of P20.26 billion.

However, 2nd District Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. pushed to increase the DOST budget by at least P5 billion for all the provinces across the country.

During the budget briefing of the House Committee on Appropriations, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said the efforts of the department has raised the country’s rank by 19 spots in the Global Innovation Index this year.

The DOST Secretary also added that several initiatives of the department has helped address the concerns of the Filipinos. These include the Anti-Dengue Program, the Malnutrition Reduction Program, the creation of Hybrid Electric Trainsets, and others.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago also expressed hope for the DOST’s budget augmentation.

“I really lament that you have very meager budget…Science and technology should be our top priority,” Elago said.—AAC 

House approves bill postponing 2020 Barangay, SK polls

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to defer the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to 2022.

A total of 194 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 4933, while six voted negative. There were no abstentions from the vote.

The approved bill proposes to reschedule the local polls to December 5, 2022.

Its original version sought to defer the barangay and SK elections to May 2023.

Under the bill, village elections will be held in 2022 to allow more time for incumbent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials to implement and complete their respective projects.

After the 2022 elections, subsequent barangay and SK elections will be held on the first Monday of December 2025, and every three years thereafter.

The amended version of the House bill is similar to the one that Senate passed in September.

President Rodrigo Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address in July urged Congress to postpone the village elections.

Senate targets to pass creation of Department of Disaster Resilience before end of 2019

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019

Retrieval operations in Itogon landslide

The Senate of the Philippines considers the proposed creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience as urgent following the recent earthquakes that hit North Cotabato.

According to the proposal of Senator Christopher Bong Go, the said department will handle all disaster-related responsibilities.

To date, several agencies including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are shouldering the responsibilities in addressing disaster-related events.

Several senators have expressed support to the said proposal.

“Nagkakaturuan eh, because it’s all coordinating council. Hindi po siya talagang departamento na nakatutok, for example, on post calamity and even pre-calamity,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“So yung sa disaster, ang importante diyan, may mananagot. Talagang may tutupad.  Walang turuan ng turuan,” said Sen. Imee Marcos.

Senate President Vicente Sotto said there is a big possibility that the bill will be passed before the year ends.

“Hindi siya masyadong problema hindi katulad ng ibang departamentong pinaplano na nagsasalungat duon sa right sizing bill,” Sen. Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Zubiri doesn’t see any reason why the approval of the proposed 2020 national budget will be delayed.

The senator hopes that the 6-month delay in the passage of the 2019 budget will not have a repeat.

“Ang consensus ng ating mga kasamahan sa Senado ay maganda naman, ipapasa natin as soon as possible time,” Zubiri said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Sen. Lacson urged to identify questionable P20-B in proposed 2020 national budget

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019

Sen. Panfilo Lacson

A lawmaker in the House of Representatives wants Senator Panfilo Lacson to identify what he calls “parked funds” in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 as approved by the House of Representatives.

House Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymond Villafuerte reiterated that the lower chamber did not touch or changed anything in the proposed budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Yung sinasabing 20 billion, I think naka-line yan, hindi lang malinaw. Siguro kailangan lang linawin yan ng mga department. Wala kaming ginalaw or inamend from the NEP,” Villafuerte said.

To clear up everything, Villafuerte wants Lacson to identify the said questionable item in the national budget.

“May mga lumpsum, for example feasibility study, right of way, foreign assisted. I think he has to, makakatulong kung eemphasize niya kung alin dun,” Villafuerte added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, also said that all it takes is for Lacson to point out the questionable amount and the President will remove it.

“Tell Sen Lacson to point out the specific item in the GAA and the President will remove it,” said Presidential spokesperson Atty Salvador Panelo.

Conversely, Lacson is confident that the President will remove the questionable fund, like what he did in the P95-Billion fund inserted in the House level for the 2019 national budget.

Lacson said that he will be the one who will propose to have the questionable amount removed when it reached the Senate.

In the meantime, Congressman Villafuerte is hoping that the 2020 national budget will be deliberated upon at the bicameral conference by the end of November.

He said they would want to discuss the additional funds for infrastructure, health, and the areas affected by the recent earthquakes.

The house targets to have the budget enacted by the first week of December. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

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