DBM chief, 4 AFP officers get CA nod
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim appointment of Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado.
No CA member objected when a motion to approve Avisado’s ad interim appointment as chief of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was made.
Before the plenary session, members of the body’s Committee on Budget and Management deliberated on and recommended the approval of the ad interim appointment of Avisado.
“Continue what you are doing in the DBM … particularly on the national budget. He (President Rodrigo Duterte) cannot do it without your input and wise counsel. Please continue what you started,” Senator Panfilo Lacson told Avisado during the CA panel’s hearing.
Before this, Lacson asked Avisado about the over P80 billion in Congressional alignments in the 2020 national budget which had been withheld.
Avisado told Lacson that this was to ensure that the projects undergo the proper process and vetting.
“What the President simply wants to do is to make sure that these goes through the process and that when they’re vetted and proven to be in accordance with the priorities of the government and that they are shovel-ready or implementation-ready, then why not?” the DBM chief said.
“We have to support these projects and be implemented at the proper time,” he added.
Avisado also said that for the 2021 budget call, projects that will be put under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) will have to go through the approval of the regional development councils (RDCs)
“The RDC is the repository of all programs and projects within the region. They had all the long list of projects kasi po merong short, medium, and long term. At ito po ay talagang pinaparating ‘yan sa RDC, therefore, what we’re really saying is at the level of the region, pakitingin lang if these projects are really there at that therefore this has been vetted,” he said.
“That’s what we are doing now for 2021. And that all projects to be funded and to be included under the NEP must have the corresponding RDC endorsement para po lahat ng projects natin ngayon will really have to go through the process at may corresponding endorsement from the RDC Nasa budget call na po yan. Pag wala pong RDC endorsement, wala po sa NEP yan,” he added.
Lacson, who has repeatedly exposed alleged pork insertions during previous budget seasons, lauded the “new direction” the DBM is taking when it comes to vetting projects.
Senator Imee Marcos, however, was apprehensive about this new requirement, saying it would just delay the process.
“The requirement to pass RBC is not legally required, this has never been the process. Why are we compelling all the budget officers, the public work, and local government units (LGUs) to undergo yet another step, yet another delay in the requirement to put the RDC approval as part of the project process,” she said.
“Wala pong ganyan dati e. Bagong imbento lang yan ng DBM, sa totoo lang,” she added.
Avisado explained to Marcos that the said requirement is merely to ensure that the projects that will be included in the NEP are properly vetted and are in accordance with the Regional Development Plan.
“With due respect, I was co-chair of Regional Development Council for seven years of RDC 11 and it is our mandate, precisely, to review the budget of each of the regional offices within the region, including the projects,” he said.
“Therefore when we do that we are assured that these projects have gone through the process…That’s the mandate of the RDCs,” he added.
Avisado assured lawmakers that the department will “revisit the guidelines and whatever it is that we can draw up in terms of hastening” the process.
“Basta amin dito, maidaan lang sa proseso, meron kaming pinanghahawakan na galing mismo sa departamento rather than bibigyan na lang kami ng listahan na hindi namin alam kung anong klaseng project yan,” he said.
“Bina-validate lang po namin…if there’s a way that we can hasten it, we’ll hasten it rather than it becoming a problem,” he added, noting that the DBM just wants to ensure that these projects “are well within the priorities of the government and that they are implementation-ready and shovel-ready.”
Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Labor Committee, meanwhile raised issues regarding employment within government agencies.
“Every time we talk about issues of labor, ‘endo’ (end of contract) will always surface, both of us would agree that the biggest number of contractual workers is in the government or public sector,” Villanueva said.
Citing data from the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Villanueva said that there are 669,347 job orders and/or contract of service job orders in the government as of May 2019.
“I think this is a great concern especially for a lot of us to address the evils of endo,” he said.
“I’d like to raise this particular point. We have a list of authorized positions…Every year we see government agencies, they have been reporting thousands of contractual employees, yet we have a lot of positions to be filled,” he added.
Villanueva said 11.6 percent of positions in the Department of Public Works and Highways need to be filled-up.
He said that in 2018, there were a total of 208,856 unfilled positions in government agencies and in 2019, 198,775 positions were unfilled.
“Ang point ko lang po, ang daming mga govt agencies, thousands of unfilled positions and yet ang dami din pong job orders and contract of service, may gagawin po ba tayo dito?’ he asked Avisado.
“All departments and agencies, I think even including LGUs, will have to make sure that they will no longer have job orders…pinagbabawal na po yan up to the end of the year po,” the DBM chief said.
Fight vs. corruption
Avisado also assured lawmakers that corruption will not foster in the DBM with him at the helm of the agency.
“Wala po kaming karapatan na sirain ang mandato ng DBM at ganun din po ang pagiging involved in many or in any other form of corruption,’ he said referring to DBM officials and personnel.
“I take full responsibility for anything and everything that happens in DBM. Pag meron pong corruption na mangyayari diyan, I can assure you that I will be the first to go pagka po nangyari yan,” he added.
Avisado was appointed as acting DBM secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2019.
He previously served as Davao City administrator from 2004 to 2010 under then-Mayor Duterte.
In 2010, Avisado was appointed to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) as assistant secretary to then HUDCC chair and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, chair of the CA’s Committee on Budget and Management, noted during the plenary session that Avisado is “praised for advocating transparency in the service.”
Meanwhile, the CA also confirmed the ad interim appointments of four senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Before this, a separate hearing was conducted by the CA’s Committee National Defense to deliberate on the ad interim appointments and nomination of the following AFP senior officers:
- Roberto T. Ancan to the rank of Lieutenant General
- Simeon Z. Felix Jr. to the rank of Major General
- Fernando M. Reboja to the rank of Brigadier General
- Maning S. Tawantawan to the rank of Brigadier General
Edited by MUF /GSG
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