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Lacson wants P5-B greening fund realigned to ID system

/ 12:52 AM November 13, 2019
Panfilo Lacson at Senate floor

Sen. Panfilo Lacson (File photo by Cathy Miranda / INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines — Why not transfer the P5-billion allocation for the government’s National Greening Program (NGP) to the implementation of the national ID system?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson raised this suggestion on Tuesday during the Senate deliberations on the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.

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Lacson underscored the importance of having a national ID system, saying it was a form of public service that would “expedite a lot of transactions.”

“Even in the revenue collection, you can use this as a weapon,” he said.

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The government would need P25 billion to fully implement the national ID system, Lacson said.

Sen. Sonny Angara, who defended the proposed budget, said that 97% of the P4 billion in appropriations allocated for the national ID system in 2018 and 2019,  had already been obligated.

“There’s a requirement for 2020…in the amount of P5.65 billion. Assuming that we can fund the additional 5.65 billion, only 14 million Filipinos will and residents can be covered,” Lacson, speaking partly in Filipino, then said.

But Lacson said that, under the General Appropriations Act, only P2.4 billion was allocated for the implementation of the national ID system.

“There’s a gap of P3.2 billion,” he pointed out.

“So if the P2 billion can only cover 6.3 million Filipinos, can you find a way to complete the requirement of 5.65 billion to cover 14 million?” Lacson added.

He then suggested that the gap could be funded by the P5-billion appropriation meant for the National Greening Program.

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“We have a recurring expenditure in the National Greening (Program), year in and year out, for the past eight years, and we have already appropriated more than P33 billion. The question is: Where are the trees? We don’t see any greens. In spite of the continuous appropriation of P33 billion,” Lacson said.

The NGP is a government program launched in 2011 which sought to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six years.

“In 2020, there was going to be more than P5 billion. If we still can’t get trees, maybe we put the allocation on the national ID system. Is it okay for the DBM to realign the P5 billion so it can be used to fund the national ID?” Lacson said.

Angara responded positively to Lacson’s suggestion but said that the panel would have to first consult with Sen. Cynthia Villar, finance sub-committee vice chairperson.

“We’re open to that…we’ll just consult the sub-committee vice chairperson, Senator Villar, and let’s prioritize it,” Angara said,

Villar also chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform.

In response, Lacson said: “It’s better that we prioritize the national ID system now. It’s more worthwhile than the National Greening Program that’s not really even green.”

/atm

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TAGS: National Greening Program, national ID system, Senate
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