Writer: Rowena B. Bundang
THE House Committee on Appropriations today approved the P124.153 billion proposed budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government for 2016 without interpellation of officials of the DILG and its attached agencies, as part of the panel’s tradition to forego formalities of the hearing if the new head of the agency concerned is a member of Congress.
Prior to the approval of the DILG budget by the appropriations committee chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) raised a motion to forego with the agency’s budget presentation and the Question and Answer portion in honor of the lawmakers’ colleague, Rep. Mel Senen S. Sarmiento (Lone District, Western Samar), who had been recently appointed the new DILG Secretary by President Aquino.
Hon. Rufus B. Rodriguez”One of our most competent, most outstanding colleagues had been appointed by the President as DILG Secretary. It has been the tradition of this committee that if the new member of the Cabinet is a member of Congress and his budget will be presented to the committee, then we dispense with the briefing and we just go to the plenary. I therefore move that we dispense with the budget briefing,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the committee members are in full support of Sarmiento’s appointment and trust that he will do well in the DILG. “We know he will lead with utmost dedication, efficiency, loyalty and integrity. There is a vote of confidence right now. We give him this day to honor him,” said Rodriguez.
Hon. Isidro T. UngabUngab, however, said while such has been a committee tradition, such tradition comes after the formal presentation of the budget. He requested DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Austere Panadero to just present the DILG budget after which the committee will dispense with the Q & A portion.
“There is no question about that tradition, however, we have to place on record what was the budget approved by the committee and what was the budget proposed by the committee. If we dispense with everything, then the moment we prepare a committee report, we will have nothing to put in there. If you approve (the budget) without the presentation, then that is zero. I suggest we give the DILG time to present the budget first before we dispense with the Q & A portion,” said Ungab.
Rep. Romeo M. Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City) said he will withdraw his objection if the chair will schedule a pre-plenary hearing for the DILG budget. In response, Rep. Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), a committee vice chairman, said the schedule for the DILG pre-plenary consultations with congressmen is on Oct. 2.
Ungab said the tradition in Congress is that if a House member joins the executive, then the committee members will forego with the formalities of the hearing on the budget of the concerned agency or department.
In his short message to the committee, Sarmiento vowed that the DILG will be fair and non-partisan, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will ensure the holding of honest, peaceful and credible elections in May 2016.
In his presentation, Panadero said the bulk of the P124.153 billion DILG budget, is for its interior agencies to scale up the work for peace and order, and public safety in the amount of P110.49 billion.
The smaller portion, which is P13.662 billion, shall be for the local government sector to pursue the work that has been started in helping local government units (LGUs) improve basic services, especially local infrastructure and the cry for better governance. Since 2016 is election year, he said the DILG is also preparing for several local commissions according to him.
Moreover, Panadero said 76 percent or P93.952 billion of the DILG budget shall go to personnel service, 20 percent or P24.602 billion to maintenance and other operating expenses, and four percent or P5.598 billion to capital outlay.
Panadero said appropriation per agency is as follows: DILG proper, P13.404 billion; Philippine National Police (PNP), P88.161 billion; Bureau of Fire Protection, P11.190 billion ; Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), P8.059 billion; National Police Commission (Napolcom), P1.467 billion; Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), P1.610 billion; and Local Government Academy (LGA), P258.283 million.
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