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Explanation of “no” vote to HB 6455 (2013 budget)

15 October 2012 One Comment

Explanation of “no” vote on House Bill 6455

 

I vote “no” to House Bill 6455, the 2013 General Appropriations Bill, for the following reasons:

 

1. HB 6455 continues the decades’ long trend of prioritizing debt servicing over education, health and sanitation, housing, and other social services. A total of P360.4 billion is allocated to the debt burden, comprising 17.9% of the P2.006 trillion proposed budget. That’s larger than the combined budget for education and health.  The priority given to debt servicing continues to be the main reason for the gross underfunding of social services by government, resulting in the deprivation of basic services to generations of Filipinos.

 

Even the Department of Education budget, which has the biggest budget among all line agencies at P292 billion, will not be able to provide for the needs, particularly of K to 12, touted as the banner education reform program of this administration.  A mere P1.6 billion is allocated for the universal kindergarten program, which means that the Department of Education will continue to employ over 23,900 volunteer kindergarten teachers with a monthly pay of only P3,000 to P6,000 per month.  How can this administration countenance such gross exploitation of teachers?

 

2. HB 6455 perpetuates the underdevelopment of domestic industry and agriculture. The Aquino administration continues to look to foreign investment and the overseas labor market as the main drivers of employment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the pitifully inadequate budget of the Department of Trade and Industry, particularly the allocation for Micro-, Small, and Medium Enterprises.  MSMEs account for over 60 percent of jobs generated by the economy annually.  Yet compare the allocation of a measly P1.2 billion for MSME support to the massive P44.3 billion allocation for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.  Clearly, this administration prefers short-term dole outs over long-term employment and the strengthening of the domestic economy.

 

3. HB 6455 infringes upon the rights of public sector employees, including teachers and non-teaching personnel, to decent salaries, job security, and collective bargaining.

a. HB 6455 does not provide for a salary increase in 2013. Historically, government has, since the initial implementation of the Salary Standardization Law in 1989, imposed a freeze on salary increases right after the implementation of a round of pay hikes (typically lasting 3 to 4 years but as long as 6 years in the case of the Arroyo administration).  This is unlike the private sector, where the minimum wage is reviewed annually.  We are concerned that the Aquino administration will continue this pattern, resulting in the erosion of salaries and decline in living standards of public sector employees.

 

b. HB 6455 perpetuates the large-scale contractualization of government personnel providing essential and front-line services. The proposed budget does not provide for the regularization of hundreds of thousands of contractual positions in the bureaucracy.  In the public education sector alone, for instance, there are over 49,000 contractual teachers employed by Local Government Units; over 23,900 volunteer kindergarten teachers employed by the Department of Education, and over 16,000 contractual faculty employed by SUCs.  The Department of Health intends to deploy 22,500 contractual nurses.  In short, over 111,400 contractuals in public education and health alone. The vast majority are grossly underpaid and have no employer-employee relationship with government and are thus deprived of basic benefits.

Hand in hand with contractualization, the proposed budget also maintains a freeze on the hiring of new personnel in many agencies in the name of rationalization.

Notable in this regard is the lack of new plantilla positions for non-teaching personnel in the Department of Education, despite the fact that it will hire 61,510 new teachers next year.

 

c. HB 6455 further undermines the public sector’s right to unionize and to collective negotiation. Not only does HB 6455 not have a provision on the funding of Collective Negotiation Agreement Incentives, but it also signals the Aquino administration’s intent to, as the President put it, “move away from across-the-board incentives” through the introduction of Performance-Based Incentives, for which P9.97 billion is allocated.  This introduces a competitive model that lets agencies and employees vie against each other for one-time cash incentives.  This is intended to undermine the model of collective negotiation based on solidarity of interests upon which public sector unionism is based.

 

4. HB 6455 does not have adequate safeguards for the protection of human rights and the ending of impunity enjoyed by human rights violators. The budget can be a powerful tool for influencing policies and behavior in government institutions.  For the past two years, this representation has advocated that the release of certain operational funds of front line units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines be tied to their human rights record.  HB 6455 contains no such provision along these lines.

 

5. HB 6455 contains lump sum funds at the disposal of the Office of the President.Despite Malacañang’s declared aversion for lump sum funds, the Office of the President has reserved for itself a number of lump sum allocations. A notable example of this would be the P5.0 billion PAMANA fund, a Presidential pork barrel tucked into the budgets of eight agencies, to be dispensed at the discretion of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. ###

 

  • pinoy

    kung mag bigay ng perfrmance incentive bonus si noy noy ibigay na walang condition bakit sino bang may mataas na perfomance went we talk about governace kahit siya hindi makakuha nito. kasi wala siyang nagawa sa mga pilipino ngayon sa totoo lang may malaking crises pang dumating na hindi na matugonanan ang pangangailangan sa mga pilipino kasi wala siyang ginawa kung ang kanyang sarili lang na kapakanan