Lacson pushes P534-B biotech fund | Inquirer News
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Lacson pushes P534-B biotech fund

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:22 AM December 05, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday suggested realignments in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2019, including the allocation of a P534 billion for biotechnology research.

Lacson suggested that billions of pesos be transferred from various government programs that had problems in project implementation and resulted in dismal disbursement records for agencies.

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Shifts in education budget

Among the sectors that received the biggest additional funding in his “institutional amendments” was the education cluster, including the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education.

“Education is always a top priority of our people. The state is under obligation to provide accessible quality education at all levels and assign the highest budgetary priority to it,” Lacson said in a letter to Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee.

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‘Last Mile Schools’ project

But Lacson also sought to realign a substantial part of DepEd’s spending program.

He proposed the transfer of P14 billion earmarked for the construction of new school buildings to the DepEd’s “Last Mile Schools” project to build classrooms in far-flung communities.

Lacson pointed out that of the P275.38 billion that the government allotted to the program from 2015 to 2018, only P35.51 billion, or 14.98%, was disbursed.”

Only 25% done by JulyHe also noted that of the 78,615 classrooms and technical-vocational-livelihood laboratories that the DepEd wanted to build from 2014 to 2019, only 19,632, or 25 percent, were finished by July 2019.

“To set aside a substantial budget for the Basic Education Facilities Program without first resolving the backlogs, and the problems in the implementation is an inefficient allocation of resources,” Lacson said.

Lacson, who had been blocking pork barrel items in the government’s spending bill in order to institutionalize conscientious public spending, also proposed that P534 billion be set aside for the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BioTech), an agency under the University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna.

Support needed

In defending the huge allocation, he said: “In this day and age of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, we need to support BioTech’s continuing effort to modernize and improve its operations in accordance with its mandate.”

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Lacson wanted to augment by P5.7 billion the allotment for the Philippine Statistics Authority to bankroll the implementation of the national ID system next year.

Lacson is the principal author of Republic Act No. 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, which President Duterte signed into law last year and integrates 33 ID cards into a single system.

The national ID will contain a person’s Philippine System number, full name, gender, blood type, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, address, and a front-facing photo.

The Palace had earlier said that the government was planning to enroll 107 million Filipinos by 2022.

Funds mostly from DPWH

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was the one of the biggest losers in Lacson’s proposal which cuts the department’s budget by over P20 billion due to its  failure to complete projects.

He wanted P15 billion in appropriations for right-of-way issues slashed from the spending bill.

Lacson also wants P5-billion cut from the public-private program strategic support fund.

Lacson reasoned that the DPWH had unused appropriations amounting to P82.4 billion from 2011 to 2018.

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TAGS: 2019 national budget, bioech found, Panfilo Lacson
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