Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday reiterated his call to impose a five-percent savings on the 2022 budget of all agencies, saying the government is not helpless in providing wider relief measures to families affected by rising fuel and food costs.
“Hindi totoo na we’re helpless. Mahirap humanap ng pera, pero meron tayong mahahanap. Dapat mag-utos ang President [Rodrigo] Duterte ng five-percent savings,” Cayetano said in a media interview on March 21, 2022.
“With a five-percent mandatory savings rate, not only can you better help more people now, you will also enable kung sino man ang susunod na administrasyon,” he added.
(It’s not true that we’re helpless. Finding funds is difficult, but it can be done. President Rodrigo Duterte should impose five-percent savings. With a five-percent mandatory savings rate, not only can you better help more people now, you will also enable whoever will lead the next administration.)
The veteran lawmaker said if President Duterte orders all government agencies to set aside five percent of their 2022 budget, the government can fund a one-time payment of P10,000 in direct aid to at least 20 million Filipino families.
“Kasi ang kailangan mo lang para mabigyan mo ang lahat [ng pamilyang Pilipino] hanggang middle class is between P180 to P200 billion,” he said.
(All you need to give P10,000 to every Filipino family up to the middle class is between P180 billion and P200 billion.)
He said this was a “counter-proposal” to the Malacañan-approved relief measure given by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III last week, through which the bottom 50 percent of Filipino households will each be given P200 monthly to help offset additional costs due to high fuel and food prices triggered by the conflict in Ukraine.
“Maganda ang intention niyan ni [Finance] Secretary Sonny [Dominguez], at talagang naghahanap siya ng pondo. Idol ko po ‘yan sa gobyerno. Having said that, kung pagbibigyan niya ako mag-propose, si President (Fidel) Ramos noon, 10-percent savings lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno; ako ang pino-propose ko, five percent lang,” he said.
(Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez has good intentions, and he’s really looking for funds. I look up to him in government. Having said that, if he would allow me to propose, President Fidel Ramos imposed a 10-percent savings rate on all government agencies; I’m proposing just five percent.)
The amount has since been raised to P500 by the President, who said the initial subsidy was “too small.”
“I said look for money, it’s too small, it cannot sustain a family of three, even four, five, (the poor) have the most children, they are the productive Filipinos for tomorrow, not now,” Duterte said.
Cayetano’s 5-percent savings proposal is based on efforts made in the mid-1990s by then-President Fidel V. Ramos to reduce the budget deficit. Ramos mandated government agencies to defund non-essential services and streamline their budgets, levying a 10-percent cut on agencies that did not submit the required budget reports.
The move enabled the government to reverse years of deficit spending and turn a budget surplus in spite of the effects of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and 1998.
Cayetano said because a number of government functions have yet to return to normal, government agencies can still review their budgets and find items that they can skip and convert into savings.
“Sa five percent, P250 billion ang matitipid mo, and tutal Marso pa lang naman ngayon, one-fourth pa lang ng taon, so napakalaking pondo pa ang meron sa P5 trillion budget natin,” he said.
(At five percent, the government can save P250 billion. Since it’s only March or just a fourth of the year, there is still a huge chunk of our P5 trillion national budget.)
Cayetano gave unfilled teaching positions and unused travel allowances in the Department of Education (DepEd) as a hypothetical example.
“Kapag sa five percent, makakaipon ka na ng P250 billion, kalahati na po ‘yan ng Bayanihan 1. Sa P250 billion, meron kang two options. One option, bigay mo na y‘ung P10,000 (kada pamilya), isang bigayan,” the lawmaker said, pointing out that the Bayanihan 1 COVID-19 aid package was twice as large at P500 billion.
(With the five percent, we can put together P250 billion, that’s half of Bayanihan 1. With P250 billion, you have two options. One option is to give out a one-time payment of P10,000 to every family.)
It can be recalled that Cayetano filed the 10K Ayuda Bill on February 1, 2021 which proposes the provision of at least P10,000 in cash aid to every Filipino household in order to help families recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.
“The second option is, ibigay mo na y‘ung P5,000 [sa bawat household], at itabi mo y’ung P150 billion para sa susunod na administrasyon, para kung magka-COVID or tumaas ang presyo ng gasolina, tumagal y’ung Ukraine-Russia conflict, meron tayong magagamit,” Cayetano explained.
(The second option is to give P5,000 to each household, and set aside the remaining P150 billion for the next administration, just in case they need it for a fresh COVID wave, or if gas prices shoot up again, if the Ukraine-Russia conflict drags on, there are funds we can use.)