DILG’s proposed budget passes House panel, but NYC’s allocation deferred
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for 2024 passed the House panel level but the allocation for the National Youth Commission (NYC) was deferred due to concerns with the agency.
At the end of the nine-hour hearing of the House Committee on appropriations on the DILG’s P262.0 billion budget for 2024, House Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan moved to terminate deliberations — except that of the NYC, an attached agency of the DILG.
Libanan reasoned that Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel aired concerns about NYC’s fulfillment of its mandate. The motion was seconded by committee vice chairperson and Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin.
Before Libanan made his motion, Manuel questioned NYC Chairperson Ronald Cardema over statements he allegedly made in a media forum, which was part of news reports of a daily broadsheet. Later on, Manuel read a portion of a news clip that was featured by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac)
“It’s rude that the NYC chairperson is lying in front of us lawmakers, it is stated from the press conference that in the page of NTF-Elcac, he said that even if the resources of the NYC is lacking, their advocacy is very much alive and they are participating in the media forum to stop the alleged recruitment,” Manuel said in Filipino.
“And Madam Chair he also mentioned that they ‘really monitor that, we have local youth development officers, we have regional youth development offices of the NYC’. That’s why it’s very clear that NYC does not fulfill its mandate, and now that it lies to its teeth, we cannot just assume that SK candidates and schools are not being monitored,” he added.
The Kabataan lawmaker also pointed out that since NYC does not have any confidential and intelligence fund, it is not allowed to do surveillance — speculating that the agency might have realigned a portion of its budget for such purposes.
But Cardema said he does not recall making such a statement, adding that it is impossible for the NYC to do surveillance when each regional office only has two employees.
“I do not recall such statement because every regional office of NYC has only two personnel,” Cardema replied.
This is not the first time that Manuel sought the deferment of NYC’s budget. In 2022, the lawmaker said that NYC’s proposed funding should be deferred if Cardema would not resign.
PNP nearly deferred too
Meanwhile, the budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP), another attached agency of the DILG, was nearly deferred also after Misamis Occidental 2nd District Rep. Sancho Fernando Oaminal initially made the motion.
Oaminal reasoned out that the PNP has to submit justification as to why its proposed budget for 2024 — pegged at P195.7 million — is higher than 2023’s P193.3 million.
“Mr. Chair upon review of the statistics presented, the data which was thoroughly scrutinized by this representation, I believe we need more further evidence to really support the necessity for the increase in the budget most specifically for the PNP,” he said.
“So I move Mr. Chair that we defer the approval of the budget of the PNP until more data would be presented to the members of this body,” he added.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas seconded the motion, but the hearing was temporarily suspended to allow lawmakers to deliberate the said motion. When the hearing resumed, Oaminal withdrew his motion after the PNP leadership committed to provide the documents requested by lawmakers.
“I am fully aware that the proposed budget, though it may seem enormous in the eyes of the public, is only a meager amount compared to what is really needed to achieve the peace and order — the maintenance and what we aim to accomplish,” Oaminal said.
“And with the commitment that these documents that would support, justify its necessity would be provided, then I so move to withdraw my motion to defer the budget of the PNP,” he added.
DILG budget ‘important’
Appropriations chairperson and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co meanwhile stressed that the budget provided to DILG is important given that the agency is at the forefront of maintaining public safety and entertaining quick response needs.
At the start of the proposed budget’s hearing, Co also noted that the department plays an important role in ensuring that local governments are able to effectively deliver primary services.
“The Department of the Interior and Local Government is a vital pillar of governance in the Philippines. It plays a multifaceted role in maintaining peace and order, efficient local governance, and provide services in times of disaster. The DILG is the cornerstone in the nation’s pursuit of stability, progress, and resilience,” Co said in his opening speech.
“It must institute activities and programs that strengthen the capabilities of local officials, enabling them to implement development projects, deliver public services, and make informed decisions that cater to the unique needs of their commodities,” the budget panel head said.
Co also talked about how the allocation to DILG would support the department’s new visions, as contained in the UNITE Agenda: Ang Tugon sa Makabagong Panahon.
In Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.’s presentation, UNITE was broken down to:
- Unleashing the maximum potential of good local governance
- Nourish the bonds of national and local governments to address key sectoral concerns
- Intensify efforts to ensure public order and safety
- Transform governance through technology and innovation
- Enhance the capability of the Department.
“Mahalaga ang tungkuling gagampanan ng DILG sa pagtugon sa agenda na ito upang mapanatili ang kaayusan ng bansa sa iba’t ibang aspeto – mula sa kapayapaan at pampublikong kaligtasan at pagpapalakas ng kakayahan ng lokal na pamahalaan upang epektibong maipagkaloob ang mga pangunahing serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.
(The role that DILG plays is important especially in addressing this agenda, which seeks to maintain order within the country in different aspects — from peace and public safety, strengthening the capacity of local governments so that they can effectively deliver services to the people.)