Press Release
July 4, 2015

Exempt P100 M for books for special children, other funds for the disabled from underspending

Saying that government should install "access ramps" to public funds, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto today called on agencies to implement "without delay" projects for the disabled like the earmarking of 10 percent of this year's P1.2 billion budget for school furniture for cooperatives of persons with disabilities.

Recto also called for the strict observance of the national budget provision obliging all infrastructure and civil works projects to be built this year to conform with Batas Pambansa 344 and other laws that require the design of these facilities "to enhance the mobility and safety of the disabled."

Another "funded program which must carry a 'Do not delay' sign,'' he said, is the P100 million for the purchase of textbooks and instructional materials "for children with special needs."

The said amount is included in this year's P16 billion allocation of the Department of Education (DepEd) for the "provision of learning resources" to public schools, the senator explained.

"I hope that what DepEd will buy this year will include books in Braille," Recto said.

Another "special provision" in DepEd's P319.3 billion 2015 budget is the contracting out of 10 percent of the budget for new school chairs, desks and fixtures to cooperatives of persons with disabilities.

Another 15 percent will be allocated to other cooperatives, raising to one-fourth the "reserved share" of co-ops from the P1.2 billion DepEd budget for school furniture.

"This may not be much, but if successful, it could encourage the formation of local co-ops that will supply the furniture needs of local schools," he said.

Recto also called for the augmentation of the measly P11 million budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) "to assist persons with disabilities."

"If budgeting laws allow it, then perhaps DSWD can shift some of its savings from the P6.2 billion overhead for the Conditional Cash Transfer program to interventions that will help the disabled," he said.

He further said that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) "traditionally has funds at its disposal" which can be used to repair "existing streets, sidewalks and pedestrian overpasses" so they would comply with accessibility laws.

For the current year, DPWH has a budget of P290 billion.

But in using this fund, Section 35 of the General Provisions of Republic Act 10651, the General Appropriations Act for 2015, directs the DPWH to ensure that structures to be built must comply with BP 344.

So there will be proper accounting on how much is spent for "the welfare of the disabled," Recto said budget planners should start cataloguing resources that will be funnelled to this "unrepresented sector."

"The idea is to set a disability index in the GAA. We're using the traditional metrics of, for example, regional spending, or by object of expenditure. But perhaps in the years to come, we should start reckoning how much really is being spent for the blind, the deaf, or children with special needs."

"Funds for the society's hidden must be mainstreamed in the national budget. Kahit maliit lang ang pondo para sa kanila, ang importante alam natin, para malaman din natin kung ano ang kulang," Recto said.

"A transparent budget must divulge how much is being spent for those who are in the shadows of society," he said.

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