[28 Sep 2015 | No Comment | 279 views]

Kabataan presents new set of nominees for party-list elections, endorses Neri Colmenares’ bid for Senate

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[5 Oct 2015 | No Comment | 76 views]

A closer look at the regional allocation for the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) program reveals how it is “intrinsically designed” to boost the candidacy of former Interior Secretary and now Liberal Party presidentiable Mar Roxas, a lawmaker said Monday.

Ahead of the plenary debate on the budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said that there is a reason why Roxas has been going around the country in the past months to promote BUB and even inaugurate completed BUB projects in the past months.

“The Aquino administration is hyping the so-called grassroots approach to budgeting under the BUB program. However, looking at the regional budget allocation for BUB projects show that its ulterior purpose is to boost Mar Roxas’ candidacy through patronage politics,” Ridon said.

“Such observation is not bereft of concrete basis,” the lawmaker said, as he noted the following observations:

  • Large BUB funds have been allotted to traditional bailiwicks of President Aquino and Roxas, such as Regions III (Central Luzon), which was given a total of P1.6 billion in BUB projects spread over several agencies in 2015, and P1.9 billion in 2015. This is also the case for Region VI (Panay), which received a total of P1.8 billion worth of BUB projects this year, and P2.1 billion for 2016.
  • Vote-rich Region VII, where Cebu is located, got the largest chunk of the BUB budget. In 2015, Region VII received a total of P1.9 billion in BUB funds, which will only get bigger in 2016, with a total allocation of P2.3 billion, the highest allocation among all regions.

“These are only some examples that show how the BUB is designed to cater to vote-rich regions and traditional bailiwicks of the Liberal Party. Mar Roxas is essentially using BUB projects to woo in local support. Even if DILG does not admit it, the figures speak for themselves – BUB is a tool designed for political patronage and muscle-building at the local level,” Ridon said.

When the mechanism started in 2013, the fund under BUB reached P8.4 billion spread over 595 municipalities. For 2014, the budget under GPB soared to a total of P20.03 billion spread over 1,226 municipalities, almost at par with the budget for the now defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The BUB mechanism has been given a total of P20.9 billion budget in 2015, and is set to receive another P24.7 billion in 2016 that will fund 14,326 projects.

‘Continuing limitless discretion’

Ridon also noted that the BUB continues to operate in a manner similar to the controversial Disbur.sement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“In the past, we have questioned the manner in which post-enactment cancellation and replacement of identified BUB projects can be done through its implementing rules, a mechanism similar to DAP. In the new implementing rules for BUB under DBM-DILG-DSWD-NAPC Joint Memorandum Circular No 5 s. 2014, such DAP-like mechanism remains intact,” Ridon noted.

The youth lawmaker noted Section 4.2 and 4.3 of the said joint memorandum, which allows LGUs to cancel and replace BUB projects already itemized in the General Appropriations Act, subject to certain limitation.

Section 4.2.2 of DBM-DILG-DSWD-NAPC Joint Memorandum Circular No 5 s. 2014 states, “If a project is deemed to be not feasible for implementation upon validation of the concerned participating agency, the project may be replaced with another project that can be implemented by the same participating agency in the same city or municipality, provided that the replacement project has been identified by the concerned Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT).”

Section 4.3 of the same document meanwhile states, “Replacement of GPB projects will only be allowed under any of the following conditions:

  • The project has been deemed not feasible for implementation by the concerned participating agency.
  •  The project is located in a city or municipality that was greatly affected by disasters in 2013.”

“The cited portion of Joint Memorandum Circular 5 are patently unconstitutional as it allows the cancellation and replacement of projects already identified in the General Appropriations Act,” Ridon said.

“The BUB program uses magic words like ‘grassroots’ and ‘civil society participation’ to make it look and sound progressive. Yet, a deeper analysis of this program shows that it is not only a program designed for political leverage, but is also serves as a new way for the Executive Department to usurp the congressional power of the purse,” Ridon said.###

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[5 Oct 2015 | No Comment | 89 views]

A party-list lawmaker representing the youth called on all government agencies on Monday to report on their use of the over P1-billion annual budget for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses,” in light of the furor over the lewd Liberal Party event last week.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon pointed out that the national government allots an average P1 billion budget for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” every year, a budget which covers expenses for “official entertainment,” public relations, and other expenses “not supported by the regular budget allocation.”

“Sa madaling salita, ito ang parte ng budget na itinuturing na ‘pocket money’ ng mga opisyales ng gobyerno: pang-party, pang-outing, at pondo para sa iba pang ‘extraordinary activities,’” Ridon explained. (In other words, this is the portion of the budget treated as ‘pocket money’ by government officials: the budget for parties, outings, and other ‘extraordinary activities,” Ridon explained.)

Data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) show that the government has allotted a total of P3.1 billion for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” for years 2014, 2015, and 2016 (see table below).

The two chambers of Congress receive the highest allocation for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” each year, amounting to P347 million in 2015. At second place is the Judiciary, with a P287 million allocation for the said item of expenditure this year.

The Office of the President, meanwhile, is given an average P16.4 million extraordinary and miscellaneous budget every year, while the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) gets an annual P7.6 million budget for the same purpose.

‘Dubious purpose’

The use of the budget for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” is governed by the general provisions of the annual General Appropriations Act.

Section 39 of House Bill No. 6132 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill defines the use of the said allocation. Here is the full provision:

Section 39. Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expenses. Appropriations authorized in this Act may be used for the annual extraordinary expenses of government officials with the following ranks and their equivalent, as may be determined by the DBM, not exceeding the amounts indicated:
(a)    P264,000 for each Department Secretary;
(b)   P108,000 for each Department Undersecretary;
(c)    P60,000 for each Department Assistant Secretary;
(d)   P45,600 for each head of bureau or organization of equivalent rank, and for each head of a Department Regional Office;
(e)   P26,400 for each head of a Bureau Regional Office or organization of equivalent rank; and
(f)     P19,200 for each Municipal Trial Court Judge, Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge, and Shari’a Circuit Court Judge.

In addition, annual miscellaneous expenses not exceeding Seventy Two Thousand Pesos (P72,000) for each of the offices under the above named officials and their equivalent are authorized herein.

For the purpose of this section, extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses shall include, but not be limited to expenses incurred for:
(a)    Meetings, seminars and conferences;
(b)   Official entertainment;
(c)    Public relations;
(d)   Educational, athletic and cultural activities;
(e)   Contributions to civic or charitable institutions;
(f)     Membership in government associations;
(g)    Membership in national professional organizations duly accredited by the Professional Regulation Commission;
(h)   Membership in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines;
(i)      Subscription to professional technical journals and informative magazines, library books and materials;
(j)     Office equipment and supplies; and
(k)    Other similar expenses not supported by the regular budget allocation.

In case of deficiency, the requirements for the foregoing purposes may be charged against available allotments of the agency concerned. No portion of the amounts authorized herein shall be used for the payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits, and confidential and intelligence expenses.”

“Going through the provisions governing the use of the budget for extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses show us that this portion of the national budget is prone to abuse, especially as it can be tapped for almost anything,” Ridon said, noting the “catch-all” provision which allows agencies to use the said budget for “other similar expenses not supported by the regular budget allocation.”

“To be fair, there are legitimate uses for the budget for extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, such as the purchase of office equipment, journal subscriptions, and membership dues. However, our question for all government agencies using the said budget is this: how much has your agency been spending for ‘official entertainment,’ public relations, and contributions?” Ridon asked.

Ridon said he will move for the full accounting of “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” of the government in today’s plenary session for the national budget.

“The public deserves to know these details, as taxpayers should not be paying for lewd parties and other nefarious activities of unscrupulous government officials,” the youth solon ended.###

Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expenses (in thousand pesos)
Agency 2014 2015 2016
Congress 409,422 346,975 345,056
Office of the President 13,717 18,439 17,030
Office of the Vice President 430 427 430
Department of Agrarian Reform 10,409 8,793 8,599
Department of Agriculture 8,539 8,180 9,829
Department of Budget and Management 5,590 5,762 6,268
Department of Education 28,053 14,399 16,435
State Universities and Colleges 23,419 39,177 39,414
Department of Energy 2,757 2,622 2,945
Department of Environment and Natural Resources 8,235 8,139 9,363
Department of Finance 23,287 25,231 25,859
Department of Foreign Affairs 7,024 3,879 4,612
Department of Health 8,631 10,486 15,107
Department of Interior and Local Government 7,264 7,767 7,775
Department of Justice 23,217 27,641 28,141
Department of Labor and Employment 33,883 33,251 33,347
Department of National Defense 86,125 54,715 3,967
Department of Public Works and Highways 2,090 4,976 6,103
Department of Science and Technology 9,014 8,723 9,166
Department of Social Welfare and Development 6,881 6,811 8,791
Department of Tourism 4,311 4,951 5,424
Department of Trade and Industry 9,825 9,423 9,459
Department of Transportation and Communications 10,001 7,930 9,653
National Economic and Development Authority 8,690 10,310 10,712
Presidential Communications Operations Office 1,549 2,294 2,331
Other Executive Offices 37,572 38,246 38,807
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao 12,399 12,393 12,393
Judiciary 221,578 287,419 288,346
Civil Service Commission 5,798 6,911 6,911
Commission on Audit 8,200 6,336 7,175
Commission on Elections 4,734 4,466 4,841
Office of the Ombudsman 10,946 14,505 14,505
Commission on Human Rights 1,612 1,612 1,778
TOTAL 1,057,216 1,045,204 1,012,588

Source: 2016 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing

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[2 Oct 2015 | No Comment | 164 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon bared in the House plenary on Friday that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has only approved about half or P43.8 billion out of the P82.6 billion total budget request of the country’s 114 state universities and colleges (SUCs) for 2016.

“Sa madaling salita po, sa bawat dalawang pisong pangangailangan ng ating mga pampublikong kolehiyo at unibersidad, piso lang ang inilalaan ng gobyerno,” Ridon told the House plenary during the deliberation of the budget of SUCs earlier today.

Data compiled from the original proposals submitted by state schools to DBM reveal that the country’ 114 SUCs actually proposed a total of P82.6 billion for 2016, of which P37.4 billion is for personnel services (PS), P15.7 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and P29.5 billion is for capital outlay (CO).

However, when DBM finalized the 2016 national budget, the agency only approved P43.8 billion, or about 53 percent of the original request, broken down as follows: P26.9 billion for PS, P11.1 billion for MOOE, and P43.8 billion for CO.

“When we talk about government funding for SUCs, we need to consider their actual funding requirement. This data reveals how grossly insufficient the budget for SUCs remain to be, despite annual nominal increases,” Ridon explained.

Annual subsidy short by P16 billion

“Worse, more data from DBM reveal that the annual subsidy to our state schools – despite its gradual increase over the years – fall short by an average of P16 billion,” the lawmaker added.

Data from DBM’s Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing show that while the total expenditure of 114 SUCs in the country amounts to an average of P59 billion annually, the government provision for SUCs falls short by P16 billion, amounting to an average of only P43 billion since 2014, official government data show.



Year  Expenditures from government subsidy  Expenditures from internal income  Total expenditures
2014                          38,372,068                                            14,395,265                   52,767,333
2015                          44,397,334                                            17,623,579                   62,020,913
2016                          46,013,772                                            16,691,684                   62,705,456
 AVERAGE                          42,927,725                                            16,236,843                   59,164,567

Source: 2016 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing

To compensate for the lack in subsidy, SUCs are compelled to earn their own income through various means, including charging tuition and other fees, and utilizing assets.

Since 2010, the average internal income of all SUCs amount to an average of P36 billion, two-thirds or almost P11 billion of which comes from fees paid by students.

Next year, DBM projects that SUCs will spend a total of P62.7 billion, of which P16.7 billion is expected to be financed by internal income.

“Students are the real victims in the continued underfunding of the government for our SUCs. Due to insufficient funds, state schools intensify the collection of tuition and various fees,” Ridon said.

The legislator reiterated the urgent need for Congress to provide sufficient funding for public higher education.

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[2 Oct 2015 | No Comment | 318 views]

Twenty-eight legislators from various political parties, including six vice chairpersons of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, have joined forces to bat for higher state funding for state universities and colleges (SUCs).

During the plenary deliberation on the budget of the country’s 114 SUCs on Friday, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon announced on the floor the filing of House Resolution No. 2377 – primarily authored by Kabataan Partylist – which seeks to “restore the P477.8 million budget slashed by the Department of Budget and Management from the maintenance and other operating expenses of 59 state universities and colleges in the proposed 2016 budget, and study options to further increase the budget for public tertiary education.”

“This resolution has been co-authored by no less than 24 of our colleagues, including several senior members of the House Committee on Appropriations, and even Committee on Higher and Technical Education Chair Rep. Roman Romulo,” Ridon told the House plenary.

Here is the full list of legislators who co-authored HR 2377:

  1. Hon. Terry Ridon (Principal Author)
  2. Hon. Emil Ong (Appropriations Vice Chair)
  3. Hon. Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (Appropriations Vice Chair)
  4. Hon. Thelma Almario (Appropriations Vice Chair)
  5. Hon. Celso Lobregat (Appropriations Vice Chair)
  6. Hon. Scott Davies Lanete (Appropriations Vice Chair)
  7. Hon. Mariano Piamonte (Appropriations Vice Chair and sponsor of SUCs budget)
  8. Hon. Florencio Flores Jr.
  9. Hon. Winnie Castelo
  10. Hon. Romeo Acop
  11. Hon. Francisco Matugas
  12. Hon. Aleta Suarez
  13. Hon. Raneo Abu
  14. Hon. Evelina Escudero
  15. Hon. Fernando Hicap
  16. Hon. Luz Ilagan
  17. Hon. Rolando Uy
  18. Hon. Carlos Isagani Zarate
  19. Hon. Tupay Loong
  20. Hon. Susan Yap
  21. Hon. Joselito Mendoza
  22. Hon. Roman Romulo (Higher and Technical Education Chair)
  23. Hon. Antonio Tinio
  24. Hon. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez
  25. Hon. Jim Hataman-Salliman
  26. Hon. Imelda Marcos
  27. Hon. Gwen Garcia
  28. Hon. Neri Colmenares

In HR 2377, the legislators noted that despite the nominal 4 percent increase in the budget of 114 SUCs in the proposed 2016 national budget, from a total P42.3 billion in 2015 to P43.8 billion, 10 SUCs will incur a net decrease in their respective budgets.

A more in-depth analysis of the budget of SUCs also reveal deeper cuts with 59 SUCs set to incur hefty cuts in their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and 40 SUCs set to suffer cuts in their capital outlay (CO) budget.

Western Visayas is the region most affected by the MOOE cuts, with eight schools in the region affected. At close second is Eastern Visayas, with seven schools in the said region also about to suffer MOOE cuts.

Forty SUCs will meanwhile incur cuts totaling P4.1 in their CO budget. The largest decrease will be suffered by the University of the Philippines System (UP), which is set to incur a P2.2 billion budget cut for its CO. Three SUCs also have virtually no capital outlay allocation for 2016. These are Marikina Polytechnic College, Cagayan State University, and Bulacan State University.

“The new spate of spending cuts, especially the P477.8 million decrease in the budget for school operations, will have a severe effect on state schools. In fact, several school presidents have already written legislators to express their deep concern,” the legislators said.

“We thus enjoins the whole body to pass this resolution, as it is but just and reasonable for the House Committee on Appropriations to consider restoring even just the P477.8 million slashed in the MOOE of 59 SUCs, considering that we have a very wide fiscal space next year – P582.7 billion to be exact – so wide that we can even double the budget of all SUCs and still have plenty of room for more,” Ridon stressed.KPL logo clean version

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[2 Oct 2015 | No Comment | 166 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon on Friday questioned a special provision inserted in House Bill No. 6132 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill which empowers state schools to tap their students for construction work.

Ridon was referring to Section 12 of the Special Provisions for the budget of SUCs which tackles the “Vocational and Practicum Training of Students.”

The said provision states, “SUCs are authorized to avail the voluntary services of their students in the construction or repair of buildings and the fabrication or repair of buildings and the fabrication or repair of equipment subject to the payment of P25 per hour but not to exceed four hours a day.”

“They may likewise utilize student labor for academic, research, extension and administrative matters as part of practicum training subject to payment of P25 per hour,” the provision further states.

During the plenary debate on the budget of the 114 state universities and colleges (SUCs), Ridon asked budget sponsor Rep. Mariano Piamonte why such a provision exists, explaining that the said provision may be abused by SUCs to force students to do construction work.

“Mr. Speaker, distinguished sponsor, this representation simply cannot accept this provision! Akala po natin wala nang polo y servicios dahil panahon pa ‘yun ng Espanyol, pero ano ito, may probisyong hinahayaang gawing construction worker ang mga estudyante kapalit ang barat na P25 na sahod.” Ridon noted.

SUCs budget sponsor asserted that the said provision is only for “voluntary work” and only cover the practicum of students.

“But Mr. Sponsor, do construction and fabrication work now qualify as practicum work for our students? There is no need for us to include such provision in the national budget. Let schools practice academic freedom and let them prepare appropriate practicum programs for students. We should remove this provision on student labor,” Ridon said.

The legislator said that he will move for the removal of the said provision during the period of amendments for HB 6132.


Plenary debate SUCs budget