Solons condemn rejection of Taguiwalo

16 August 2017


ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro and Antonio Tinio slammed the Commission on Appointment’s rejection of the appointment of Department of Social and Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.


“This rejection of Secretary Taguiwalo’s appointment is also a rejection of the reforms she instituted in order to end political patronage in the management of public funds. It is a rejection of the kind of DSWD that genuinely served the poor and marginalized,” said the solons.


“Sec. Judy’s rejection is a tremendous loss for the people for whom she stood as DSWD chief,” Castro lamented. “In the short year of her service, the DSWD championed the poor, women, children, and the Lumad and other indigenous peoples. Sec. Judy called for the resumption of the peace talks towards a negotiated peace settlement that will address the roots of the armed conflict–poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services, and inequitable distribution of wealth and resources. Ano na lang mangyayari sa mga adbokasiya at repormang nasimulan ni Ma’am Judy ngayong pinutol ang pamumuno niya sa DSWD?”


“The CA’s refusal to let Sec. Judy remain in her post proves that those instituting reforms in government will not be tolerated by trapos who want public funds distributed in their name, by neoliberals and militarists in the cabinet who are against her advocacies for the poor and stand against martial law and fascism,” said Tinio.


One of the first acts of Taguiwalo as DSWD Secretary is the issuance of Memorandum Circular 9 which enforces the SC ruling on unconstitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund by declaring that referrals from government officials are not integral to the implementation of DSWD’s Protective Services Program. This circular ensures that DSWD’s funds reach the poor and are not used for patronage.


Another is her support for the SSS pension hike, which she actively campaigned for inside the cabinet along with fellow progressives Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza.


Taguiwalo also pushed for the regularization of the thousands of personnel in DSWD who have long been under repeatedly renewed short-term contracts. Last week at the budget deliberations, she also called on Congress to reconsider the billion-peso Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino doleout as well as to increase the DSWD capital outlay for the construction and repair of centers and homes for senior citizens, orphanages, and other social welfare institutions. ###

Solon scores cuts, lump sum in DOH 2018 budget

15 August 2017
Vital programs of the Department of Health in 2018 will suffer fund cuts of up to 99.55%, in the face of the continuing practice of lump sum budgeting, said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio at the hearing for the DOH budget on Monday.
Tinio noted that aside from the reduction of 28.45% in the maintenance and other operating expenses for the 66 regional and special hospitals nationwide, the proposed budget contains drastic cuts in the MOOE of several vital programs.  These include Epidemiology and disease surveillance (from P14.2 billion in 2017 to P63.7 million in 2018, down by 99.55%); Environmental and occupational health (from P74.9 million to P3.7 million, 95.01%); Non-communicable diseases prevention and control (from P2.2 billion to P381.7 million, 82.81%); Elimination of diseases as public health threat such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leprosy and filiariasis (from P894.7 million to P372.5 million, 58.37%); and Prevention and control of other infectious diseases including HIV-AIDS, dengue, food, and water-borne diseases (from P1.97 billion to P1.69 billion, 13.9%).
Health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said that this is a result of an instruction of the Department of Budget and Management to centralize funds for the “soft component” of these programs (such as training and seminars) into the “Public Health Management Program.”
“This centralization of funds previously broken down in specific programs into a single lump sum is a reversal of efforts towards itemized budgeting since the pork barrel system became an issue in the past administration,” said Tinio.  “This is also a complete turnaround of the stand of DBM Secretary Ben Diokno—He was a vocal critic against lump sums in the previous administrations but now that he is in the helm of the DBM, he resorts to the same practice.”
“We in Congress and the public in general are not shown the specifics of this lump sum so we also can’t see later on if these funds are spent for whatever they are intended.  This lack of transparency is exactly why we are against lump sum budgeting,” said the solon, noting that lump sums are more vulnerable to being declared as savings and then realigned.
Tinio demanded for the itemization of the Public Health Management Program as well as increases in the programs whose funds were slashed.  “We cannot agree to these cuts considering that the need for these programs is greater now.  A bird flu outbreak has just been confirmed in Pampanga, and there are reports of substantial increases in malaria morbidity and mortality, mortality from non-communicable diseases, and newly-diagnosed HIV cases,” he said, citing government sources including the Philippine Development Plan.
Meanwhile, Tinio noted that the DOH’s low target for “Access to establishments/health products compliant to regulatory policies” (70%) will have serious impact on consumer protection and the health and safety of Filipinos using food and health products including medicines found in the market.
Finally, he scored government in giving the Food and Drug Administration zero MOOE and leaving it to run its operations on income such as licensing, registration, and other related regulatory fees.  “We cannot allow the FDA, which is tasked to monitor the flow of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and household hazardous waste in the country, to remain dependent on companies they are supposed to regulate.  This represents a conflict of interest on the part of the FDA to the detriment of the public.”  ###

Solon hits massive budget cut on DSWD 2018 capital outlay

14 August 2018

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio opposed the budget cut of about 90% on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) capital outlay (CO) during the hearing Wednesday on the its 2018 budget.

“This massive budget cut of almost 90% in the CO will greatly affect the direct services offered by the DSWD to vulnerable sectors such as senior citizens, children, persons with disability, women, solo parents, homeless families, and disaster victims.  The CO which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) included in the proposed budget was only P30.9 million, far below the P362.3 million in the 2017 budget or P3.4 billion that the DSWD requested from the DBM during the budget call,” Tinio pointed.

The DSWD’s infrastructure outlay of previous years ranged from P238.8 million in 2014 to P909.4 million in 2016.

The solon explained that the budget cut will hinder the DSWD’s performance of its main mandate which is providing a wide range of direct services to vulnerable sectors. “For instance, a CO of P30.9 million will not enable DSWD to repair the dilapidated centers and homes for the elderly and construct more of these institutions. Repair and construction of these centers and homes are necessary, considering that there are only 71 nationwide and not all provinces, municipalities and cities have them, according to the DSWD.  This CO cannot build and maintain public orphanages or child centers and other social welfare institutions.”

“The government should give DSWD a budget that will enable it to fulfill its various functions and mandate of ensuring social welfare and development especially to vulnerable and marginalized sectors,” Tinio stressed.  “It should not give DSWD the kind of budget that transforms it into a mere cash transfer agency.”

Tinio explained that only the ballooning funds for CCT or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program have made DSWD consistently one of the agencies with the highest budgets.  “In reality, it is one of the agencies with the poorest funding, if we take away the CCT.  And we should, since the 4Ps is a mere safety net or band aid measure that does not really eradicate poverty.  The 4Ps should not be one of the programs of the DSWD, or the entire government, for that matter.”

The solon added that, over the years, government has been ballooning the funds for CCT to the detriment of DSWD’s other programs.  “The DSWD’s budget in 2007 was only P3.5 billion before the CCT. Then in 2008, the first implementation of CCT, DSWD budget was P11.3 billion, P298 million (3% of total DSWD budget) of which is for CCT. Then in 2011, the budget for CCT increased up to P21 billion (62%). Now, the CCT budget is P89 billion (65%). Meanwhile, all other programs and projects of DSWD are being underfunded.”

“We call for an increase in the DSWD’s CO of P3.4 billion as proposed by DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.  Frankly, this budget cut is too much,” Tinio ended. ###

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on US State Department effort to exclude North Korea from ASEAN Regional Forum:

6 August 2017
The blatant attempt by the US State Department  to pressure members of the ASEAN Regional Forum into excluding North Korea from diplomatic discussion  and dialogue is clear proof that US imperialism is the real threat to peace and stability in our region.
Unfortunately, despite his anti-US rhetoric, Pres. Duterte is happy to sing the tune of US imperialist policy. He has placed his talent for profanity at the service of the US by  depicting North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un as the number one threat to peace in the region, thereby justifying the further build-up of US forces in the region. Far from being the  actions of a “madman,” the development and testing of nuclear weapons by North Korea are rational responses to the threats of war and regime change coming from the US.
The reality is that it is US imperialism that poses the biggest obstacle to peace in the region. Despite the end of the Cold War, it remains at war with North Korea; it maintains a ring of military bases in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines despite growing popular opposition to their presence, and pursued a vast military build-up against China.
It’s the United States that should remove itself from the ASEAN Regional Forum. The key to long-term peace is the withdrawal of US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, to enable the peoples of the region to chart their destiny free from US intervention. ##