OVER P500B IN LUMP SUM FUNDS IN P2.6-T 2015 NAT'L BUDGET 

JULY 30 --PHOTO: Abad submits proposed 2015 natl budget to Congress. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad (3rd right) poses with congressmen after he submitted the government's proposed P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (3rd Left) on Wednesday, July 30. The 2015 National Expenditure Program is 15% higher than the 2014 budget. Also in photo are Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Rep. Isidro Ungab, and Rep. Rahman Nava. GMA News Lump sum funds will still comprise almost 30 percent of the proposed P2.606 trillion General Appropriations Act for 2015, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Wednesday. Abad said special purpose funds (SPF), which critics call the President’s “pork barrel,” amounts to P501.670 billion or 29 percent of the proposed appropriations for 2015.

The allocations for the Office of the President that have yet to be itemized include the calamity fund, miscellaneous personnel benefit fund, pension and guarantee fund, contingency fund, Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and debt service payments. "I don't think that's too big an amount.... The total amount that pertains to the special purpose funds that I have mentioned is 501.670 billion or about 29 percent of the new GAA. The rest are department and agency budgets and that's about it," Abad said in a news conference. The budget secretary made the remarks as the administration continued to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court declared partially unconstitutional.

The executive branch has been criticized for the alleged arbitrary manner with which it treated slow-moving allocations to re-align it to other projects under the DAP. Meanwhile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said there will be no allocation similar to the discredited Priority Development Assistance Fund, which used to fall under the President's SPF in the previous budgets. * READ MORE... [Also more 2015 Budget news in PHNO Business & Economy Section and NoynoyCorner (PE section)]

ALSO: No more lump-sum amounts in P2.6T budget proposal, says Palace exec

JULY 31 --PHOTO: Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras. The Aquino administration submitted to Congress on Wednesday, the P2.6-trillion national budget proposal for 2015, which would involve what Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras described as the “outcome-based performance-informed budgeting (PIB) strategy.” Almendras said that in the 2015 National Budget, “everything is detailed.” “There are no lumpsum amounts,” Almendras said in a forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Cebu chapter PIB is a scheme that uses performance information in deciding where the funds will go.

Performance information includes the purpose for the funds required, the output expected to be produced or the services that would be rendered, the outcomes that would be achieved by the services, and the cost of the programs and activities proposed to achieve the objectives. PIB, according to Almendras, is different from the traditional line item-based budgeting as it focuses more on outputs and outcomes and places less emphasis on inputs.
Almendras explained that the shift to PIB was in line with the Aquino administration’s goal to strengthen the link between planning and budgeting and to simplify the presentation of the budget to make it more understandable to the public. “Government transformation is not new. Government transformation in Canada has been going for six years. We wanted to implement it in three years,” he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Phl & foreign businessmen urge Noy to implement overdue reforms before term ends  

JULY 31 --Philippine and foreign businessmen are urging President Aquino to pursue needed reforms in his last two years of office to instill good governance, achieve inclusive growth and attract more foreign investments. In a letter to Aquino dated July 21, the Philippine Business Groups and Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC) said that while they recognize the efforts of the administration to implement social, political and economic measures for a progressive Philippines, there are still much-needed and long overdue reforms. The letter was signed by the heads of the following business groups: Makati Business Club, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, IT (Information Technology) and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines,

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters. The groups said the government must continue to push for the campaign of good governance. “It is imperative that public officials, both past and present, who are proven to have been involved in the misuse of public funds be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law at the soonest time and without fear or favor,” the groups said. As recent developments demonstrate that corruption continues, the groups said it is important for the public to serve as the government’s partner in guarding against corruption. “Thus, we take note of your commitment during the Daylight Dialogues to pass the Freedom of Information Act before the end of your term and are looking forward to its enactment,” the groups said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Certified urgent: Bangsamoro, FOI, whistle-blowers act

President Aquino is urging Congress to immediately pass the national budget for 2015, the supplemental budget for programs and projects affected by the Supreme Court ruling declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, the Freedom of Information Bill and 27 others that Malacańang submitted as its priority measures. The priority list included the six measures endorsed by the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the joint session of Congress last Monday, including the P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015, supplemental budget for 2014 to fund programs and projects under the DAP, Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill, Bangsamoro Basic Law, extended filing of notice of coverage under Land Reform Program and the joint resolution that will clarify the budgetary items listed in the DAP. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Congress has the power to define savings, Speaker Belmonte says 

JULY 30 --House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said defining savings would be the prerogative of Congress since the concept didn't have a constitutional definition. Belmonte made the remark in the wake of President Benigno Aquino III's call for Congress to pass a joint resolution that would clarify the definition of savings after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional certain acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Among the DAP actions that were struck down was the executive branch's declaration of savings before the end of the fiscal year. Aquino, in his budget message, also asked Congress to redefine savings to allow the executive branch to declare unobligated and unspent allocations as savings by the end of the first semester.

“It is up to us to legislate the proper definition of it, the proper applicability of it and so forth. How far it extends, whether our proposed law extends to the use of unprogrammed funds, [and] at what point can you use it?” Belmonte said. Belmonte said the House can work on the passage of the joint resolution and deliberate on the proposed P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015 at the same time. “We are tackling them [proposed budget and joint resolution] at the same [time in the] second session of the 16th Congress. So I guess it does not matter if one is one day ahead or two days behind. But we hope both to be completed or approved within this second session,” he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy asks Congress to legitimize DAP act with 2015 budget bill

JULY 30 --President Benigno Aquino III has asked Congress, through a proposed provision in the 2015 national budget, to legitimize the declaration of unreleased and unobligated funds as savings as early as by the end of the first six months next year. The practice of declaring savings before the end of the year was one of the acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the Supreme Court struck down because it violated the definition of savings in past appropriation acts. In his budget message, Aquino called on Congress to "clarify the definition and use of savings and augmentation." "Given that this proposed budget will be valid for one year, it will be counter-intuitive to allow the declaration of savings and augmentation of deficient budget items only at the end of the year," the President said. "Thus, the proposed general provisions of this budget seek to allow the declaration of savings by the end of the first semester--a realistic time frame, as it gives enough time for the implementation of augmented programs and projects," he added.

In its DAP ruling, the SC declared as unconstitutional "the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act." House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said defining savings would be the prerogative of Congress since the concept didn't have a constitutional definition. “It is up to us to legislate the proper definition of it, the proper applicability of it and so forth. How far it extends, whether our proposed law extends to the use of unprogrammed funds, [and] at what point can you use it?” Belmonte said. New definition of savings  --The General Appropriations Acts from 2011 to 2013, when the DAP was implemented, defined savings as funds that are "still available after the completion, or final discontinuance, or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized." Using this definition, the SC said in its DAP ruling that the executive erred in declaring unreleased and unobligated funds as savings, since funds pooled under the DAP are for projects that have not yet been completed or discontinued with finality. * READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion from GMA news: PNoy’s last two years

Like his mother before him, President Noynoy Aquino inherited a country in misery when he took the helm of government. Cory had to overturn the suffering under the Marcos dictatorship, while PNoy had to undo the misdeeds of the Estrada and Arroyo governments. But just like before, the son has to face the cruel reality of the Pinoy psyche: no matter what the President does, many constituents will never be satisfied with their leaders. The parallel lives of Cory and PNoy are going through another familiar refrain. Both were thrust into the presidency because of unusual circumstances—a death in the family, mainly—and both have been severely criticized despite the transformation they brought after they were swept into power. It didn't matter that Cory restored democracy; her critics pounced on the return of traditional politics anyway. In the same vein, Noynoy brought back investor confidence and instituted anti-corruption measures, but street protesters keep repeating the tired old lie that he has not done anything at all. With ungrateful citizens often drowning out voices of reason in the public sphere, it's easy to see why PNoy succumbed to the uncharacteristic gesture of displaying his grief for all to witness in his latest SONA. And he is not alone in lamenting the half-empty glass mentality of many Pinoys; subsequent comments in social media from his hard-working but usually quiet kababayans show that many are just as frustrated as he is about the reluctance of people to work hard towards positive social change. PNoy may be content in the knowledge that he has made substantive reforms in government, but his hopes that future leaders will continue these initiatives could be stymied by less accomplished Pinoys whose political ambitions outweigh good intentions. *READ MORE...


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Over P500B in lump sum funds in P2.6-T nat’l budget


Budget Secretary Florencio Abad (3rd right) poses with congressmen after he submitted the government's proposed P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (3rd left) on Wednesday, July 30. The 2015 National Expenditure Program is 15% higher than the 2014 budget. Also in photo are Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Rep. Isidro Ungab, and Rep. Rahman Nava. GMA News

MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2014 (GMA NEWS NETWORK) By XIANNE ARCANGEL - Lump sum funds will still comprise almost 30 percent of the proposed P2.606 trillion General Appropriations Act for 2015, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Wednesday.

Abad said special purpose funds (SPF), which critics call the President’s “pork barrel,” amounts to P501.670 billion or 29 percent of the proposed appropriations for 2015.

The allocations for the Office of the President that have yet to be itemized include the calamity fund, miscellaneous personnel benefit fund, pension and guarantee fund, contingency fund, Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and debt service payments.

"I don't think that's too big an amount.... The total amount that pertains to the special purpose funds that I have mentioned is 501.670 billion or about 29 percent of the new GAA. The rest are department and agency budgets and that's about it," Abad said in a news conference.

The budget secretary made the remarks as the administration continued to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court declared partially unconstitutional.

The executive branch has been criticized for the alleged arbitrary manner with which it treated slow-moving allocations to re-align it to other projects under the DAP.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said there will be no allocation similar to the discredited Priority Development Assistance Fund, which used to fall under the President's SPF in the previous budgets.

* The Supreme Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional in 2013 after it was questioned in the wake of the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam.

Congressmen used to receive P70 million in PDAF every year while senators get P200 million until the discretionary fund was abolished.

“This (2015) budget does not contain any PDAF. PDAF is defined as post-budget identification of projects, meaning to say, it’s not there after the budget is finished then we start identifying it (projects). There’s no such thing,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte said the funds for lawmakers’ pet projects were either already included in the proposed GAA or these may be inserted during budget deliberations.

15 percent more

Malacańang on Wednesday submitted to the House of Representatives the proposed 2015 national budget worth P2.606 trillion, 37.1 percent or P967.9 billion of which has been set aside for social services.

The General Appropriations Bill for 2015 allocates an amount that is 15.1 percent more than this year's P2.265-trillion expenditure program.

Among the departments, the Department of Education received the highest appropriation with P364.9 billion. It is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with P300.5 billion, and the Department of National Defense with P144 billion.

The rest of the departments and their respective allocations are as follows: Department of Interior and Local Government, P141.4 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P108.970 billion; Department of Health, P102.2 billion; Department of Agriculture, P88.8 billion; Department of Transportation and Communication, P59.4 billion; Department of Environment and National Resources, P21.29 billion; and the judiciary, P20 billion.

Safeguards

Abad said the Aquino administration had instituted several safeguards to ensure the judicious use of government funds next year following the public’s call for transparency and accountability in spending taxpayers’ money.

“We’ve made it (budget) disaggregated. There’s very little lump sum unless it’s necessary. For example, the calamity fund [is a lump sum fund] since you can’t predict when it’s going to happen. We’ve also uploaded a list of projects on our website so you can monitor [how the funds were spent],” Abad said.

Apart from disaggregating the budget, the Department of Budget Management has also required agencies involved in construction and in the national greening program to geo-tag ongoing projects so these will have coordinates, Abad added.

“So if you wanna determine the progress, for example, of a construction project, you can use Google maps and put in the coordinates. The map will give you an idea of the extent that a road has been built,” he said.

Priority areas

For the first time, the government also used a budget priorities framework as a guide in crafting the 2015 GAA to ensure that funds are allocated for vital projects, Abad said.

The framework defines the priorities of government both in terms of sectors or programs or geographical areas.

“There’s focus on certain sectors like agriculture and agribusiness, tourism and certain manufacturing industries. There are also about 44 provinces that have been identified as a priority in the budget because they are either areas with high poverty incidence or they are districts or provinces where the magnitude of [poverty] is high even though the incidence is low. There are also geo-hazard areas [listed as priority],” Abad said.

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said deliberations on the national budget would begin on August 6. The House seeks to approve the proposed 2015 GAA on second reading before the end of September. —NB, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

No more lump-sum amounts in P2.6T budget proposal, says Palace exec  By Carmel Loise Matus |Inquirer Visayas7:37 pm | Wednesday, July 30th, 2014


Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Aquino administration submitted to Congress on Wednesday, the P2.6-trillion national budget proposal for 2015, which would involve what Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras described as the “outcome-based performance-informed budgeting (PIB) strategy.”

Almendras said that in the 2015 National Budget, “everything is detailed.”

“There are no lumpsum amounts,” Almendras said in a forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Cebu chapter

PIB is a scheme that uses performance information in deciding where the funds will go.

Performance information includes the purpose for the funds required, the output expected to be produced or the services that would be rendered, the outcomes that would be achieved by the services, and the cost of the programs and activities proposed to achieve the objectives.

PIB, according to Almendras, is different from the traditional line item-based budgeting as it focuses more on outputs and outcomes and places less emphasis on inputs.

Almendras explained that the shift to PIB was in line with the Aquino administration’s goal to strengthen the link between planning and budgeting and to simplify the presentation of the budget to make it more understandable to the public.

“Government transformation is not new. Government transformation in Canada has been going for six years. We wanted to implement it in three years,” he said.

* Almendras was in Cebu City on Wednesday as he was the guest speaker of a forum with the students of the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR).

Almendras also defended the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), saying that the DAP was not PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), the congressional pork barrel “PDAF is a fund approved by Congress. DAP is a program,” he told the students of USJR.

Almendras insisted on the legality of DAP, citing Sec. 38 of the Administrative Code of 1987.

Almendras mentioned that in Cebu, most of the DAP-funded projects here were spent on training under education, specifically skills training supervised by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Meanwhile, Almendras said President Aquino’s tears during his 5th State of the Nation Address were not scripted.

He said that the portions of the Sona where Aquino was talking about his parents who fought for democracy, the legacy they left, and how he would not let his administration’s detractors take away the gains his presidency had achieved the past four years were those of Aquino.

“That was not part of the original speech,” Almendras said of the emotional statements of Aquino in his Sona. He added that they were able to submit the copy of the speech at past 2 p.m. on Monday.

“You cannot blame him for what he felt. He is just a human being,” he said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Noy urged to implement overdue reforms before term ends By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 31, 2014 - 12:00am 2 110 googleplus0 0


PNoy

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine and foreign businessmen are urging President Aquino to pursue needed reforms in his last two years of office to instill good governance, achieve inclusive growth and attract more foreign investments.

In a letter to Aquino dated July 21, the Philippine Business Groups and Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC) said that while they recognize the efforts of the administration to implement social, political and economic measures for a progressive Philippines, there are still much-needed and long overdue reforms.

The letter was signed by the heads of the following business groups: Makati Business Club, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, IT (Information Technology) and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines,

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters.

The groups said the government must continue to push for the campaign of good governance.

“It is imperative that public officials, both past and present, who are proven to have been involved in the misuse of public funds be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law at the soonest time and without fear or favor,” the groups said.

As recent developments demonstrate that corruption continues, the groups said it is important for the public to serve as the government’s partner in guarding against corruption.

“Thus, we take note of your commitment during the Daylight Dialogues to pass the Freedom of Information Act before the end of your term and are looking forward to its enactment,” the groups said.

* The groups are also pushing for the issuance of an executive order which will encourage government agencies to require companies that will bid for government contracts to sign the Integrity Initiative and commit to do clean and ethical business.

To make the country’s economic growth inclusive, greater focus on sustainable agriculture and responsible mining is being pushed.

In particular, the groups want the administration to immediately formulate and implement roadmaps for specific subsectors in agriculture, similar to what has been done for certain industries by the Department of Trade and Industry.

“Furthermore, these roadmaps must be supported by adequate investments to increase agricultural productivity and to improve the welfare of our farmers and fisherfolk,” the groups said.

The groups also called for the retention of the existing Philippine Mining Act, which is seen as an effective piece of legislation if properly implemented.

“As a complement, we should ensure that we have an internationally competitive fiscal regime for mining, which gives the government a fair share of net mining revenues, as well as ensures an equitable and reasonable return for investors,” the groups noted.

In deciding on the mapping of “no-go” zones, the groups are of the view that the value of potential mineral projects should be balanced and weighed against agricultural, tourism and other considerations.

To attract more foreign investments, the groups are encouraging the government to consider proposals to open certain areas of the economy to greater foreign participation.

Certified urgent: Bangsamoro, FOI, whistle-blowers act By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 31, 2014 - 12:00am 6 98 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is urging Congress to immediately pass the national budget for 2015, the supplemental budget for programs and projects affected by the Supreme Court ruling declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, the Freedom of Information Bill and 27 others that Malacańang submitted as its priority measures.

The priority list included the six measures endorsed by the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the joint session of Congress last Monday, including the P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015, supplemental budget for 2014 to fund programs and projects under the DAP, Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill, Bangsamoro Basic Law, extended filing of notice of coverage under Land Reform Program and the joint resolution that will clarify the budgetary items listed in the DAP.

* Economy

For economic development and trade, the bills include the Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, amendments to the Law on Right-of-way of government infrastructure projects, amendments to the Cabotage Law, amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) charter, removal of investment restrictions in specific laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List, Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime and the Competition Law.

Security

To ensure national security, public order and safety, the President also called for the swift passage of the Whistle-Blowers Protection Act, Amendment to the Human Security Act, revision of the criminal code and delineation of the Philippine maritime zone/archipelagic sealanes.

Others

Other proposed measures are the Act Instituting Reforms in Land Administration, National Land Use Act, Delineation of Specific Forest Limits of Public Domain, Water Sector Reform Act, Civil Service Code Reform, Magna Carta of the Poor, Act Protecting Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Amendments to the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, Strategic Trade Management Act, Amendments to the Ombudsman Law and the bill converting Bantayan Island into alienable and disposable land.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. transmitted the President’s priority measures to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Congress has the power to define savings, Speaker Belmonte says By XIANNE ARCANGEL, GMA NewsJuly 30, 2014 10:14pm 0 1 0 5 Tags: Bantay Kaban


Abad submits proposed 2015 nat'l budget to Congress. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad submits the P2.606 trillion proposed national budget for 2015 to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Wednesday, July 30. The 2015 National Expenditure Program is 15% higher than the 2014 budget. GMA News

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said defining savings would be the prerogative of Congress since the concept didn't have a constitutional definition.

Belmonte made the remark in the wake of President Benigno Aquino III's call for Congress to pass a joint resolution that would clarify the definition of savings after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional certain acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Among the DAP actions that were struck down was the executive branch's declaration of savings before the end of the fiscal year.

Aquino, in his budget message, also asked Congress to redefine savings to allow the executive branch to declare unobligated and unspent allocations as savings by the end of the first semester.

“It is up to us to legislate the proper definition of it, the proper applicability of it and so forth. How far it extends, whether our proposed law extends to the use of unprogrammed funds, [and] at what point can you use it?” Belmonte said.

Belmonte said the House can work on the passage of the joint resolution and deliberate on the proposed P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015 at the same time.

“We are tackling them [proposed budget and joint resolution] at the same [time in the] second session of the 16th Congress. So I guess it does not matter if one is one day ahead or two days behind. But we hope both to be completed or approved within this second session,” he said.

* The General Appropriations Acts from 2011 to 2013, when the DAP was implemented, defined savings as funds that are "still available after the completion, or final discontinuance, or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized."

Following the Supreme Court’s decision striking DAP down as unconstitutional, the executive changed the definition of savings in the proposed 2015 national budget to mean portions of allocations that "have not been released or obligated" due to "discontinuance or abandonment of a program, activity or project for justifiable causes, at any time during the validity of the appropriations."

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Congress may no longer need to pass a supplemental budget for 2014 if it would be able to clarify the definition of savings in this year’s national budget.

Abad said Congress needed to clarify three issues related to savings in light of the Supreme Court ruling declaring the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

“The first issue has to do with the definition of savings which of course we have in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) as well as the timing of the declaration of savings," Abad said.

"The second issue has to do with the activation of the standby or the program appropriations and the timing of the declaration of the excess or new sources of revenue that is needed to operate the standby appropriations,” he added.

The third issue, according to Abad, is about the definition of item of appropriation as distinguished from allotment class or objects of expenditure.

In his State of the Nation Address Monday, President Benigno Aquino III called on Congress to pass a joint resolution clarifying the definition of terms related to government spending—such as savings—since the executive and judiciary have different interpretations of these words following the DAP controversy.

House Ways and Means committee chairman Rep. Romero Quimbo has said that the Joint Resolution on the definition of savings was expected to be passed in the next two months so it would have a retroactive effect on the savings accumulated in 2014. —NB, GMA News

PNoy asks Congress to legitimize DAP act with 2015 budget bill By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NewsJuly 30, 2014 8:34pm 14 1 0 27 Tags: Bantay Kaban

President Benigno Aquino III has asked Congress, through a proposed provision in the 2015 national budget, to legitimize the declaration of unreleased and unobligated funds as savings as early as by the end of the first six months next year.

The practice of declaring savings before the end of the year was one of the acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the Supreme Court struck down because it violated the definition of savings in past appropriation acts.

In his budget message, Aquino called on Congress to "clarify the definition and use of savings and augmentation."

"Given that this proposed budget will be valid for one year, it will be counter-intuitive to allow the declaration of savings and augmentation of deficient budget items only at the end of the year," the President said.

"Thus, the proposed general provisions of this budget seek to allow the declaration of savings by the end of the first semester--a realistic time frame, as it gives enough time for the implementation of augmented programs and projects," he added.

In its DAP ruling, the SC declared as unconstitutional "the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act."

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said defining savings would be the prerogative of Congress since the concept didn't have a constitutional definition.

“It is up to us to legislate the proper definition of it, the proper applicability of it and so forth. How far it extends, whether our proposed law extends to the use of unprogrammed funds, [and] at what point can you use it?” Belmonte said. New definition of savings

The General Appropriations Acts from 2011 to 2013, when the DAP was implemented, defined savings as funds that are "still available after the completion, or final discontinuance, or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized."

Using this definition, the SC said in its DAP ruling that the executive erred in declaring unreleased and unobligated funds as savings, since funds pooled under the DAP are for projects that have not yet been completed or discontinued with finality.

* In the 2015 budget proposal, however, savings are now defined as portions of allocations that "have not been released or obligated" due to "discontinuance or abandonment of a program, activity or project for justifiable causes, at any time during the validity of the appropriations."

The new definition also allows the executive to declare as savings funds for projects that have not started within the first six months of the year, unless the implementing agency can show that the project can still be undertaken within the year.

In a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Congress could always step in when the executive and the judiciary have differences in opinions.

"It happens all the time in a Supreme Court case when it defines something that is different from how the executive branch defines it. The legislative branch adapts to make sure it is in compliance with either one, or to remedy the situation," Lacierda said.

Aquino is facing two impeachment complaints because of his administration's implementation of the DAP.

'We cannot let them win'

President Aquino also used his budget message this year to rally Congress members against "those who benefit from the old system."

"As we have seen, they will continue to fight tooth-and-nail to protect their vested interesteds, to stymie the reforms that we have rolled out since the beginning and are now gaining ground, and to cast doubts on our intention in the minds of the public," Aquino said.

"In their desperation, they pull all stops to weaken the ability of this government to sustain its pursuit of the 'daang matuwid'. For our people's sake, we cannot let them win," he added, referring to the anti-corruption metaphor he has been using since his presidential campaign.

The President also pointed out in his budget message "the great injustice committed by some public officials who abused their priority development assistance fund (PDAF)."

"We have never relented in seeking justice against those who broke our people's trust," Aquino said.

Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile are currently detained on accusations that they pocketed their discretionary funds by diverting them to fake foundations of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. — NB/BM, GMA News

GMA NEWS NETWORK OPINION

PNoy’s last two years By YASMIN D. ARQUIZAJuly 31, 2014 1:59pm 510 40 0 585 Tags: Benigno Aquino III

Like his mother before him, President Noynoy Aquino inherited a country in misery when he took the helm of government. Cory had to overturn the suffering under the Marcos dictatorship, while PNoy had to undo the misdeeds of the Estrada and Arroyo governments. But just like before, the son has to face the cruel reality of the Pinoy psyche: no matter what the President does, many constituents will never be satisfied with their leaders.

The parallel lives of Cory and PNoy are going through another familiar refrain. Both were thrust into the presidency because of unusual circumstances—a death in the family, mainly—and both have been severely criticized despite the transformation they brought after they were swept into power. It didn't matter that Cory restored democracy; her critics pounced on the return of traditional politics anyway. In the same vein, Noynoy brought back investor confidence and instituted anti-corruption measures, but street protesters keep repeating the tired old lie that he has not done anything at all.

With ungrateful citizens often drowning out voices of reason in the public sphere, it's easy to see why PNoy succumbed to the uncharacteristic gesture of displaying his grief for all to witness in his latest SONA. And he is not alone in lamenting the half-empty glass mentality of many Pinoys; subsequent comments in social media from his hard-working but usually quiet kababayans show that many are just as frustrated as he is about the reluctance of people to work hard towards positive social change. PNoy may be content in the knowledge that he has made substantive reforms in government, but his hopes that future leaders will continue these initiatives could be stymied by less accomplished Pinoys whose political ambitions outweigh good intentions.

* In social media, someone wistfully wished for another Jesse Robredo as president, forgetting that the post is not something that any competent leader can easily obtain due to the fickleness of national politics. Indeed there are many things to dislike about PNoy—his unwillingness to venture outside his comfort zone, his stubborn defense of loyal allies despite their glaring weaknesses, even his smoking habit and the way he carries himself in public sometimes. But the unbreakable truth is that majority of voters put him in the position, and unlike another popularly elected president who was ousted for corruption and inept leadership, PNoy has actually done a lot to fulfill the demands of his job.

And there's still plenty to do in the last two years of his term. Like his mother, it seems he can hardly wait to step down, unlike those with Marcosian tendencies who want to perpetuate themselves in power. Before he leaves, however, PNoy needs to ensure not much unfinished business will be left behind, especially in problem areas like energy and agriculture. Now more than ever, he needs to sharpen his focus and not allow silly insults or badly assembled effigies to get in his way.

This is not to say the criticisms against PNoy are not valid; many of them are, but a quick scan of the vicious comments will show that an equal number are simply mean or misinformed. At the same time, there is often little acknowledgment that Pinoys also need to do their share in moving the country forward. It’s disgusting to see people constantly blaming the government for all the problems in their lives, even personal ones. How many times must disaster victims cry on television before they leave danger zones and resettle in safer areas? And is it right for people who refuse to practice family planning to keep complaining that their children are going hungry? In many cases, there is a refusal to take personal responsibility for one's choices, as it is more convenient to pass the burden to someone else. And often, the President is the ideal scapegoat for everyone's woes.

It is interesting to note that except for a general admonition to vote for someone who would continue his government's reforms, PNoy made no indication about his choice for his successor. The presumptive candidate is his running mate in 2010, who had given way to him after a resounding public clamor, but for now, that should not really be his concern. The future will resolve itself, and just like 2009 when Noynoy became the surprise front runner, voters will have to wait and see who will capture their imagination in the months ahead.

In the meantime, PNoy will just have to contend with another interesting feature of the Pinoy psyche, which is the tendency to appreciate people only when they're gone. It happened with Cory, her critics silenced by the unexpected outpouring of sympathy for a political family whose influence seemed to have waned in the past two decades. Will the same thing happen to PNoy when he is no longer in power, especially if his successor brings back the scourge of self-interest that plagued previous presidencies?

Filipino voters have until 2016 to ponder that question.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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