Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano urged the public to be alert as Congress commences its deliberations on the 2022 national budget.
In a recent interview with Bombo Radyo Dagupan, Cayetano said the 2022 national budget should reflect the country’s priorities in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and in paving the way for “relief, recovery, and reform.”
“Kung ano ang itatanim, ‘yan din ang aanihin. Napakaimportante na himayin natin ang 2022 budget kasi ‘yan ang itatanim natin,” he said.
(You reap what you sow. The 2022 budget is important because it’s the very thing that we will be sowing.)
In late August, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted to the House of Representatives the National Expenditure Program, which proposes a P5.024 trillion budget for 2022. This is the last budget proposal under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are the top executive agencies with the biggest share in the proposed budget for next year.
The Department of Health (DOH), the agency with the fourth biggest budget allocation, is currently being investigated by the Senate after being flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) over reporting deficiencies and allegations of unused funds intended for the country’s pandemic response.
These deficiencies, according to COA, led to “missed opportunities” that could have improved the country’s healthcare system amid the ongoing pandemic.
Congressional hearings on the proposed budget started on August 26 at the House Appropriations Committee.
“Ang national budget po ay much more than a book of numbers and programs and projects. Ito’y dapat isang plano. Ito’y dapat isang libro ng mga paraan at solusyon sa ating mga problema,” Cayetano said.
(The national budget is more than a book of numbers and programs and projects. It’s a plan. It should be a book of approaches and solutions to our current problems.)
Cayetano called on the national government to use the ongoing budget hearings to adopt a long-term economic recovery plan.
The former Speaker has been proposing the crafting of a five-year development plan that would focus on health, education, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, services, and digital infrastructure.
“Walang namang bansa na umunlad na walang long term o medium term plan. ‘Di pwedeng taon-taon lang yung pagplaplano,” he said.
(No country has ever progressed without a long term or medium term plan. We can’t just plan every year.)
He also urged lawmakers to consider increasing the budget for cash aid, since the 2022 national budget proposed by the Executive does not provide for the expansion of the country’s economic stimulus program.
“Kung bibigyan mo ng P10,000 all around the country, lahat ng sulok ng bansa, may umiikot na pera. That’s why hindi lang ayuda ang 10k. Isa itong direct stimulus talaga,” he said.
(If you distribute P10,000 each to every family, money will circulate in every corner of our country. That’s why our 10K proposal isn’t just a financial assistance initiative. It’s really a direct stimulus program.)
Cayetano and his allies in the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso have been pushing for the 10K Ayuda Bill which seeks to provide every Filipino family with P10,000 in direct aid to help them with their daily needs as well as put up their own small businesses.
The proposed measure was filed in February and was consolidated into Bayanihan 3, but the provision of P10,000 for every family was not adopted.