Press Release
February 8, 2019

Koko: pass 2019 budget to ensure funds for teachers' election pay

Senate Trade and Commerce Committee Chairperson Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III called for the passage of the 2019 national budget, thumbing down proposals to reenact last year's budget as this would negatively impact government programs, as well as the staging of the midterm national elections.

Pimentel emphasized that the government's budget should not be held hostage to special interests.

"Kung may agenda, huwag i-hostage ang national budget. Importante ang 2019 kaya ang panawagan ng Executive [Department], ipasa. 'Wag reenacted budget," said the senator from Mindanao.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had earlier stated that a reenacted budget would be "disastrous" for the economy.

"I am sure Senate President Sotto would not want a reenacted budget as it will have a bad effect on our economy. He has been working hard against a reenacted budget. We are one against a reenacted budget," said the Palace official.

Pimentel took the opportunity to allay fears that billions of pesos of congressional insertions had been included in the 2019 budget, saying what is crucial is that legislators are not allowed to determine the contractors of the projects, adding that he personally was not interested in infrastructure projects.

"Hindi ako mahilig sa infra. Ang babantayan natin 'wag ma-determine ng mambabatas ang contractor na gagawa ng project," stressed the legislator.

Pimentel added that aside from its negative effects on the economy, a reenacted budget would compromise the ability of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to hold the May national elections.

According to Pimentel, reenacting the 2018 budget would preclude the COMELEC from compensating teachers tapped to serve in May.

"Since the budget for the honoraria of teachers is not included in the 2018 budget, reenacting last year's budget would mean COMELEC would not be able to source funds for this," explained the lawyer.

"The bottomline is we need the 2019 budget passed. This is a serious matter that demands immediate action. Our public school teachers deserve to be compensated for working during the elections. To let them work without pay would be heartless, unjust, and unfair."

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