Recto wants ‘Buy Filipino’ rule restored in national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 8, 2021   •   412

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ralph Recto underscores the need to restore the “Buy Filipino” provision in the national budget.

This is amid the controversy regarding the procurement of expensive personal protective equipment (PPE) from China.

Recto said there is a better quality locally produced PPE available at a far lower price.

The senator said that, before it was scrapped in 2014, the Buy Filipino provision mandated the government to prioritize the procurement of Philippine-made products.

“In the wake of the calamitous domination by a fly-by-night, undercapitalized, zero track record foreign-owned company in a big PS-DBM-DOH contract, a united Senate should reinstate the Buy Philippine-made provision in the 2022 national budget,” he said.

Recto said the Buy Filipino provision should be put back in the national budget to help struggling domestic manufacturers keep operating and meet payroll during the pandemic.

Wala pang COVID, mayroon nang ganoong batas noon. Hindi ba mas lalo na ngayon na kailangan ng mga naghihingalong lokal na kumpanya ng benta upang manatili silang bukas at hindi magsisante ng mga manggagawa (There was no COVID-19 yet at that time but there was already an existing provision. Isn’t it necessary now more than ever for the local companies in need of profit to remain open and not to lay off workers)?” he stressed.

He also added that there is a “vibrant domestic manufacturing industry” that can supply the government’s annual shopping list of supplies and equipment.

When the Buy Filipino provision was last seen in the 2013 General Appropriations Act, it stated that “priority shall be given to the purchase of locally-produced and manufactured materials to be undertaken either by administration or by contract.” AAC

Mark Villar leads senatorial survey

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Mark Villar is the top pick among senatorial bets in the 2022 elections, according to a survey by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD).

Villar stepped down as the department secretary to vie for a senatorial seat under the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban’s (PDP-Laban) senatorial slate led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

The survey, conducted from October 17 to 27, 2021, showed Villar as the top candidate for senator followed by radio and television personality Raffy Tulfo with voters’ preference of  53.5 percent and 53.1 percent rating, respectively. Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero followed the top 2 with 48.9 percent.

Making it to the top 7 to 12 are Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano with 48.5 percent voter’s preference, Antique Representative Loren Legarda with 48.2 percent and former vice president Jejomar Binay with 37.4 percent. Also making it to the top 12 are Former senator Jinggoy Estrada (35.1 percent), senator Sherwin Gatchalian (34.6 percent), Juan Miguel Zubiri (33.5 percent), senator Risa Hontiveros (30.2 percent), former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista (29.1 percent) and Sen. Joel Villanueva (28.7 percent).

Meanwhile, placing in the top 13 to 16 are senator Richard Gordon (28.3 percent), former senator Joseph Victor Estrada Ejercito (27.5 percent), former representative Gilbert Teodoro (26.2 percent) and former senator Gringo Honasan (25.8 percent).

The non-commissioned survey is part of the presidential and vice-presidential survey series “RPMD- Halalan 2022” and used face-to-face interviews nationwide with 10,000 registered voters as respondents. AAC

Lawmakers say national budget must keep pace with COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Some lawmakers believe that the proposed national budget for 2022 does not fit with the country’s continuous fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senator Nancy Binay lamented that the country is a step behind when it comes to addressing the effects and risks of COVID-19.

Hindi natin nauunahan ang virus. Lagi tayong nasa catch-up. Kaya para sa akin for next year unahan na natin, pondohan na natin (We can’t seem to get ahead of the virus. We are always catching up. So, for me, for next year let us catch up to it. Let’s allot a budget for it),” she said.

Binay finds next year’s budget lacking with regards to providing aid, and raised concern on the placement of P45 billion fund for COVID-19 booster shots under unprogrammed funds. She also noted the lack of budget for contract tracing.

Ang 2022 budget is not ready for a war with COVID-19 ang daming kulang. Can you imagine, walang budget for contact tracing? And then noong tinanong ko sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM) bakit walang budget, ang sagot sa akin, kasi hindi raw hiningi ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), (The 2022 budget is not ready for a war with COVID-19, there is a lot lacking. Can you imagine, there is no budget for contract tracing? And when I asked the DBM why there is no budget, they said, ” It’s because DILG did not ask for it”), Binay said.

Chairman of the Committee on Finance Senator Sonny Angara noted that many of the requirements of the various government agencies and offices are not contained in the copy of the national budget submitted to Congress, particularly those related to the COVID-19 response.

“Agencies should be allowed to submit revisions to their proposed budgets to reflect new developments brought about by the pandemic. The spread of COVID has been rapid and our budget must be able to keep up with it,” the senator said.

Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin also noted that there is no budget for COVID-19 testing.

“The current proposed NEP (national expenditure program) while there are provisions there for some response for the pandemic, you also have a lot of items under the DOH that can actually be realigned for the procurement of vaccines,” she said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Lacson resigns from Senate finance committee to focus on 2022 budget scrutiny

Marje Pelayo   •   August 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson has tendered his resignation from the Senate Finance Committee to focus on scrutinizing the P5.024-trillion budget for 2022.

Lacson, who sat as the Committee’s vice chairperson, vowed to keep a close eye on budget deliberations especially after the Commission on Audit (COA) red flagged several agencies in its recent audit reports.

The senator cited that COA’s audit reports indicate “blatant inefficiency, unconscionable incompetence and worse, probable misuse and abuse of public funds in virtually the entire government.”

“I trust that it is to the greatest interest of our people to once and for all, ferret out the truth behind these reports, put value to the oft-ignored COA mandate, and ensure that there will be no ‘sacred cows’ in making accountable those who have blundered the effective and proper use of public monies,” Lacson said in his letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Lacson assured the Senate leadership that he will “actively participate in the budget deliberations and reinforce the democratic system of checks and balances.”

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