Franklin Drilon lauds Aquino administration for approving national budget on schedule for 6 straight years
By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Dec. 22 (PNA) – Senate President Franklin Drilon congratulated the administration of President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday for having achieved a consistent record of approving the national budget on schedule for six succeeding years.

”This achievement in budgetary reform and transparency is no small feat,” Drilon said.

”To my recollection, in our recent national history, only the present Aquino administration was able to ensure the timely passage of the national budget throughout its term, which means unimpeded delivery of services to the Filipino people,” he added.

At PhP3.002-trillion, the country’s budget for next year is the largest yet in the government’s fiscal records.

”This is necessary, however, to sustain the pro-people investment of the current administration,” Drilon said.

With PhP411.91 billion going for the education sector and PhP123.51 billion for the health sector next year, Drilon said the allocations on social services directly helping the people are much higher compared to past administrations.

He said it will be a challenge for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to improve and enhance their revenue collection strategies in order that the government will have ample funds for all the programs and services earmarked under the 2016 budget.

”With the many reforms instituted in both the BIR and the BOC during this administration, this goal is surely possible,” Drilon said.

Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, said President Aquino has just signed a resilient, sustainable and inclusive budget for 2016.

“This is a budget that will fund programs not only for economic development but also for the growth of every citizen; not only to create progressive communities but also to build resilience; not only to reduce poverty but also to promote sustainability,” she said.

The lady senator said she made sure the implementation of programs authorized under the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) would contribute towards preventing the creation of new disaster risks, reducing existing risks, building the resilience of local communities and the nation as a whole, towards achieving the goals under the Sendai Framework for DRR, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the country’s Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions.

“We have introduced special provisions that reiterate the implementation of our environmental laws, such as the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law, Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law, Climate Change Act, Renewable Energy Law, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, People’s Survival Fund Act, among many others. Moreover, agencies of government are required to contribute to implementing these laws,” she stressed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), aside from its current environmental programs such as the National Greening Program, will embark on a National Coral Restoration Program.

Congress has also funded, for the first time, capacity building programs for the implementation of the ESWM, a long-time unfunded law.

Special provisions under the budgets for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) state that the two agencies must ensure the construction of green and resilient evacuation centers in every region in the country.

The Department of Education (DepEd) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) must integrate the following in their respective curricula: environmental protection and awareness, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, indigenous knowledge systems pertaining to agriculture, environment and cultural heritage.

The DILG should embark on a massive information campaign for local government units (LGUs) on the said issues; while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in the conduct of family development sessions among beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, shall integrate in its program the protection of the environment, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation, including the preservation of the indigenous culture of their locality. The DSWD shall also conduct capacity building programs to prepare its beneficiaries for the onset of natural hazards.

Legarda also said that the 2016 GAA gives importance to arts and culture with increased funding for cultural programs, particularly for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) three major programs, namely: (1) Preservation and promotion of Filipino heritage through research, documentation, publication, exhibition and film production; (2) Scholarships and grants, such as funding for schools of living traditions; and, (3) Cultural and heritage mapping projects.

The budget also contains a special provision that prohibits the alteration, renovation or demolition of heritage buildings and open spaces declared by government or presumed to be important cultural properties, without approval of cultural agencies and consultation with stakeholders. (PNA)

 © 2015