September 22, 2011
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio L. Tinio submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations Monday the proposed amendments to House Bill 5023 or the General Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012.
The proposed amendments focused on the budgets of the Department of Education (DepEd), State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), Department of National Defense (DND), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and General Provisions.
For the DepEd budget, Tinio proposed for the following amendments: additional P650 million for the augmentation of cash allowance (widely known as “chalk allowance”) to teachers, deletion of the special provision allowing National Elementary and Secondary Schools to augment their budgets through collection of fees, creation of 38,593 additional permanent teacher items to address the teacher shortage, deletion of provision for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) School Building Projects, regularization of 68,593 kindergarten and locally funded teachers, and construction of 6,250 additional classrooms.
Tinio earlier argued against PPPs in social infrastructure, citing reports proving they are costlier for taxpayers.
If approved, the additional funding requirements for the proposed amendments in the DepEd budget shall be taken from the funds of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, the Conditional Cash Transfers-Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), and the PPP scheme.
For SUCs, Tinio recommended a provision prioritizing the regularization of 14,425 precariously employed part-time faculty and the creation of 8,000 new teaching items to effectively address the lack of qualified regular faculty in the SUCs.
For DND, Tinio suggested tying the release of funds of military units to their human rights record. “We believe that the national budget should also be used as a tool to promote respect for human rights and address the problem of impunity, particularly within the ranks of the military. This proposed amendment for the DND budget aims to ensure that all units of the military down to the smallest level will be effective partners in enforcing and respecting human rights,” clarified Tinio.
Tinio also proposed to remove the funding of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program from the OPAPP budget, arguing that OPAPP is not an implementing agency but only a policy-making and coordinative body. He pointed out that it is highly anomalous for an essentially armless agency to be given charge of a project P329,343,000 when the Staffing Summary of OPAPP does not record a single permanent item.
“During the plenary deliberations for the budget of OPAPP, it was revealed that this office does not have the absorptive capacity to implement the PAMANA program,” he stressed.
To the General Provisions, the ACT Teachers solon also suggested adding a debt cap provision and setting aside a budget for programs and services for persons with disabilities.
“In our proposed amendment, the total indebtedness of the National Government and any of its agencies, offices, GOCCs must not exceed 55% of the latest GDP,” said Tinio. “Government debt has surpassed ideal and manageable levels, even reaching 378.7% of the GDP in 2004. The Philippines had also been paying interests double than what other countries pay (8.7% as opposed to only 4% or 5% for other countries), without the Congress knowing the details of the payments.”
“Last year, the consolidated debt obligation of the national government was 57% of the gross domestic product (P2.537 trillion internal debt, P1.921 trillion external debt),” added Tinio. Further, he emphasized that it is the ordinary citizen that carries the burden of paying the ballooning amount of government debt.
Lastly, the lawmaker proposed amending Section 28 concerning programs and/or projects related to senior citizens and differently-abled: “All departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, commissions, and government owned and controlled corporations including state colleges and universities shall set aside at least one percent (1%) of their total FY 2012 budget appropriations for programs, services, and activities for senior citizens. They shall also set aside at least one percent (1%) for programs, services, and activities for persons with disabilities. Local government units shall set aside at least five percent (5%) of their total FY 2012 budget appropriations for programs, services, and activities for persons with disabilities.”
“This provision includes an obligation upon all government buildings and structures to have facilities or features that would ensure the mobility, safety, and welfare of persons with disabilities,” said Tinio.
The legislator vowed to push for the inclusion of the abovementioned amendments in the revised General Appropriations Bill.#
ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817)
Julie Anne D. Tapit, Media Officer (0915-762-6522)