Press Release
August 5, 2015

PNoy urged to issue HDO to Cabinet men so they can defend 2016 budget

Better for Cabinet members who are planning to run for office to stay longer in their post so they will be able to defend their agency's budget request for 2016 and report how they used the funds for the current year.

This was pointed out by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto in warning "how a changing of the guards in the Cabinet while Congress is in the middle of the budget season will result in both poor defense of agency proposals and weak explanations on how the budget was utilized."

"Pag bagong secretary na outsider ang haharap, baka nga-nga lang ang isasagot n'yan kapag tinanong kung ano na ang nangyari sa mga proyektong hiningan ng pondo," he said.

"And if it's a new appointee who will be defending a budget request in the billions of pesos, how can he give a satisfying explanation if he has barely warmed his seat?" Recto asked.

To ensure that agency plans in the last six months of his administration are ably defended by his men, "the President should issue a hold departure order to department heads who want to resign early because they want enough time to prepare for their run," proposed Recto.

Explaining how crucial "the presence of incumbents" are during budget hearings, Recto said the latter "is made up of two parts. First, you liquidate past disbursements. Then you justify why Congress should replenish your funds or finance your new projects."

"Both require institutional memory," Recto said, "So it would be better if the one who's been on top of all of these for quite some time will be the one doing the explaining instead of someone who's still on training wheels."

Recto stressed that incumbent Cabinet members should be able to defend their record and accomplishments, if any.

The House and Senate budget hearings provide the best venues for a Cabinet member to give his final report.

"That's the best place to deliver your valedictory. Kasi hindi lang talkies, pero may kasamang statistics. Numero ang batayan. At may question-and-answer portion pa, kaya pwedeng i-verify," he explained.

Recto said the "chatter" is that "a quarter" of the Cabinet may seek congressional or senatorial seats.

"Kaya kung i-rerelease man sila ng Pangulo, pwede ba yung tapos na ang budget hearings," he said.

Traditionally, the House and the Senate wrap up committee-level hearings before October. "Nasa committee-level ang importante, hindi sa plenary," said Recto.

The last day of filing certificate of candidacies is on October 16, according to the May 2016 election calendar. A government official holding an appointive post is deemed resigned the moment he files his candidacy.

Recto believes that a Cabinet member "with political ambition" who stays on his post until the budget hearings are done gains no advantage from his extended stay.

"A Cabinet position actually drags down the holder because his time and attention are drawn by his day job. It wreaks havoc to his plan to organize his campaign, given the distractions of his Cabinet duties," Recto answered in reply to queries if Mar Roxas should resign his DILG portfolio immediately.

"While it is true that 'one can run an office and run for office at the same time,' in reality, it will be hard to multitask. Another myth is that work suffers when one is planning to run. On the contrary, that person is driven to perform better because all eyes are on him," he said.

"His performance in his current job gives him the incentive to work harder as a way of convincing the voters that he deserves a promotion, and what he does with his job is the calling card of his abilities or the lack of it," Recto said.

But Recto said "if the replacement is a career official, then maybe there's no problem because continuity of programs is ensured."

"Ako nag-resign din ako sa NEDA ng maaga but I only stayed there for a year. Klaro yun mula sa simula. The succession was planned ahead and the person who replaced me was 30-year veteran. And it was an agency na hindi naman bilyon ang pondo at walang frontline delivery of social service."

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