Press Release
November 21, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said he will dissect the budget proposals of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), two agencies whose services have been the subject of frequent inquiries and complaints.

Escudero, former chair the Senate Committee on Finance, said he has registered to be the first to interpellate during the budget hearing on Monday, when the Senate begins discussing the 2016 national budget transmitted by the House of Representatives.

He said he wants to know where the DSWD got the money to clear Manila's streets of thousands of homeless Filipinos for the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and the papal visit in January.

The number of homeless people taken out has differed, but several reports said 20,000 people were given P4,000 and taken out of the sites near the venue of the APEC meeting and the residences of the world leaders.

"Sa budget para sa 2015--noong ako ay chairman ng Finance Committee--walang program para mamigay ng P4,000 o P6,000 para lang mawala ka muna. Walang ganung specific program na paglalaanan ng pondo kasi kung may ganun, natanong sana namin," Escudero said.

The lawmaker, who has expressed indignation at the government's clearing operations, said the DSWD should "not take people for fools" by insisting that the poor were taken out of Manila's streets to attend a seminar.

DSWD officials said the hundreds of homeless who were brought to a resort in Batangas during Pope Francis's visit in January received training as part of a government program providing 11,000 homeless families with rent-free accommodation for up to a year.

"Walang ganung pondo. Walang item sa budget na nakalagay pang-Metro Manila lang itong pondong ito. Eh bakit hindi nila binigyan ng pera--kahit kalahati nu'n--yung mga biktima ngYolanda? Bakit walang family briefing na nabanggit man lang sa buong Region 8?" Escudero said.

The DSWD has said that the relocation of the homeless was part of the modified conditional cash transfer or CCT.

"Bakit of all places, sa Metro Manila lang nila ginawa iyon? Hindi naman yata tama yun," Escudero said.

The DSWD's proposed budget for 2016 is P103.76 billion. On top of this is the P62.7 billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the government's poverty reduction scheme.

The DOTC's proposed agency budget is much smaller, at P36.9 billion. This does not include the budget for attached agencies, public-private partnership transportation projects, servicing of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems, engineering services and other railway projects.

In its proposal, the DOTC declared organizational performance targets that include reducing the rail transport transfer time to five minutes from a baseline of 10 minutes, which Escudero said was a complete lie.

"Anyone who has ever ridden the MRT or PNR or LRT can attest that the transfer time can be as long as half an hour, so if the DOTC promises a 50-percent reduction in transfer time, it only means at least 15 minutes--and that's a very optimistic target," he said.

Other performance indicators and organizational outcome targets listed by the DOTC are the improvement of rail transport services, decreased load factor of the MRT, and fewer transport-related accidents.

The agency is also aiming for 90 percent compliance with the rail transport timetable, release of MV plates and stickers for 90 percent of new registrations within seven days, and renewal of registration with MV plates and stickers for 90 percent of applications within two hours.

"We've heard all these last year, and the year before. And each time, we give them the benefit of the doubt and the budget they need. Look where we are now. If the commuters who suffer through traffic and dehumanizing train conditions daily were to decide how much the DOTC should get, I doubt the agency would get a single centavo," said Escudero, the frontrunner in pre-election surveys for vice president in 2016.

News Latest News Feed