Senator questions DND plan to transfer ₱35B to SPF

Senator questions DND plan to transfer ₱35B to SPF | Juan Manila

 

With the Department of Defense (DND) getting one of the highest allocations in the ₱5 trillion spending bill that the House of Representatives recently approved, a veteran senator questioned the department’s realignment of a portion of the military’s regular line-item budget to a special purpose fund that can only be released with the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.


 

MANILA — At the Senate hearing on the DND’s proposed budget for 2022, Senator Panfilo Lacson asked Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana why the agency proposes that ₱35 billion of its regular budget be transferred to a special purpose fund.

The DND is seeking a ₱222 billion budget for next year, higher by ₱17 billion of what it got in 2021, making the department one of the five sectors that will get the highest allocation in next year’s national budget.

“Since the DND budget is part of the General Appropriations Act, its funds are usually released automatically as a matter of law so I found it strange that Lorenzana wants to realign it to an SPF,” Lacson pointed out while noting that an SPF is used only to augment the regular budget and released only upon approval of the president.

“Transferring funds to the SPF would effectively turn the amount into a ‘lump sum’ that would be released only upon the approval of Duterte and his successor next year,” he added.

In reply, Lorenzana explained with the unlikely reasoning for the transfer as a way for the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to remain valid for over a year as SPF because as regular allocation this would only be available within one year.

The defense chief also disclosed that the AFP needs the SPF because the AFP’s procurement of assets was implemented over several years and it might take more than a year to perfect the contracts.

Mr Lacson, however, argued that the ₱35 billion is already line items for two military modernization laws that four previous administrations since 1995 had implemented via an itemized budget.

“Why transform an otherwise itemized amount under the AFP modernization program into lump-sum funds? It might cause problems. It’s either that or you are not ready yet to present the itemized list of equipment to be procured…Are you not ready to identify the equipment to procure?” the senator queried.

He reiterated that if the DND transfers the amount to an SPF, it effectively becomes a lump-sum appropriation without specified purpose, which is considered an informal practice and outlawed by the Supreme Court. (TRC/JuanManila)

Teachers demand payment for 87 days of extra work

Teachers demand payment for 87 days of extra work | Juan Manila

 

Giving the Department of Education (DepEd) until World Teacher’s Day on 05 October to commit to its promise, the largest teacher’s organization in the country is pressing the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to intervene in DepEd’s failure to properly compensate public school teachers for their almost three-months’ overtime work in preparation for distance learning last school year.


 

MANILA — In a statement, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT ) called on the agency to provide “direct and opportune intervention” and guarantee that the 87 days of overtime work rendered by teachers from 01 June to 03 October 2020, be properly compensated.

According to ACT secretary-general Raymund Basilio, “it is dishonorable for public officials to go back on their words and turn their backs on education front-liners who have gone beyond their duties to ensure education continuity in the midst of a pandemic.”

“The grant of vacation service credits for teachers’ overtime work in the last school year and a 25-percent overtime premium were agreed upon during a multiparty dialogue among ACT, the CSC, the DepEd, the Department of Budget and Management, and ACT Teachers party-list,” Mr Basilio pointed out.

But DepEd has argued that overtime pay could not be claimed on days in excess of the 220 maximum number of school days under Republic Act 7977 as amended by RA 11480.

At an online press briefing, education undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan countered that the agency did not agree on ACT’s interpretation of the law as he cited Section 1 of RA 7977, which stated that the number of school days during the school year will not be considered as a basis for additional pay for regular teachers.

“While the DepEd acknowledged that teachers rendered services from June to September last year—even before the official start of classes on 05 October 2020—they had received their monthly salaries for the period, amounting to around ₱120 billion,” Malaluan noted.

“Thus, they were regularly compensated for the regular eight-hour workday required of teachers like other Government employees,” he added.

Despite this, though, Basilio insisted that Malaluan’s arguments were “baseless and a lie” even as he stressed that the compensation for the 87-day overtime work of teachers was already “affirmed” by education undersecretary Jesus Mateo who said that under Section 14 of RA 4670, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, teachers will be paid an additional compensation for “co-curricula and out-of-school activities outside of what is defined as normal duties of any teacher.” (TRC/JuanManila)

Left out? Vico Sotto yet to decide on PAREX

Left out? Vico Sotto yet to decide on PAREX | Juan Manila

 

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said that he’s yet to decide on whether or not he is in favor of the construction of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX).


 

PASIG CITY — San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) PAREX project which has recently gained the National Government’s approval has yet to be presented in detail to Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, who stated that he will reserve judgment until then.

“I’ve only seen the details presented in the news,” he stated.

A thorough discussion between the project’s proponents and local officials should be held before any construction work, the Pasig City mayor added.

“They should present the project to us. They have to hold in-depth consultations with different stakeholders before they start the project,” Mr Sotto said.

The SMC plans to build and finance the ₱95-billion expressway, with six lanes to cover 19.37 kilometers, running right above the Pasig river.

PAREX is expected to cut the travel time between Manila and Taguig from 2 hours to at least 10 minutes, linking western and eastern Metro Manila. PAREX is expected to help ease the traffic congestion in EDSA, Radial Road 10, and C5.

Many environmentalists and urban planners have expressed their qualms about this, stating that the Pasig River will end up being more polluted, and that the problem with traffic will only worsen. They also claim that greenhouse gases and noise pollution from cars will be by-products of this demand.

The Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Construction Corporation, and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) have already signed a supplemental toll agreement on 21 September.

PAREX is expected to cut travel time between Manila and Pasig City down to 15-20 minutes. How do you think PAREX will affect greenhouse gases, noise pollution, or even traffic in the metro?

Tell us in the comments. (RF/JuanManilla)

Duterte announces retirement from politics, Go runs for VP

Duterte announces retirement from politics, Go runs for VP | Juan Manila

 

Days after accepting his nomination as the vice presidential candidate for the Cusi side of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and before filing his candidacy with the Commission on Elections, President Rodrigo Duterte announced his retirement from politics.


 

MANILA — It wasn’t a shock. It looked like more a part of a plan. President Duterte retires from politics and, with it, pulls out from his vice presidential bid.

Without any waste of time Senator Christopher Lawrence Go took it from where President Duterte left off, and in a bid to continue Mr Duterte’s programs, filed his candidacy for vice president, sans the official nomination from his party.

In a stark contrast with his disinterest in running for president, gunning for the vice presidency got him back on his feet. He even had prepared a speech for that Comelec event of COC (certificate of candidacy) filing, and is now ready to smite the hurdles along the way as he “pursues and expands” Duterte’s “efforts further towards overcoming this pandemic by achieving economic recovery, providing job opportunities, and addressing hunger and poverty.”

Just recently, a Social Weather Stations survey about Duterte’s running for vice president was released showing results that 60 percent of Filipinos are aware it was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, a Pulse Asia survey result came afterward showing that the vice presidency bid of Senate President Vicente Sotto III got a 25 percent rating, which was even higher than the top presidential bid in the same survey, which was Sara Duterte’s with 20 percent rating.

As all that went on, the Senate Blue Ribbon panel also keeps on unmitigated by any executive intimidation or intervention with its clampdown on the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, the firm the Duterte administration entered a deal with in big sums of money involving pandemic-response materials.

Scraping what is left of the Duterte popularity and political capital, especially as the Senate continues with its probe into the alleged irregularities between Pharmally and the Government, Mr Go and his party-mates are expected to bring in more surprises.

Notwithstanding, there is still the International Criminal Court (ICC) probe into the ‘extra-judicial killings’ in the conduct of the ‘war against drugs’.

Until the Filipinos choose their national leaders in May 2022, anything can happen. And until we get there, we are in interesting times. (RA/JuanManila)