Although Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. has expressed support for the P5.268-trillion 2023 national budget, he underscored the need to ensure this will benefit the underprivileged and marginalized as he asked for an increased budget for several government programs.
The Bicolano lawmaker voted for the House Bill (HB) No. 4488, or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), since he believed this would help the marginalized sector.
However, he asked that his colleagues consider increasing the budgetary allocations for programs that benefit underprivileged Filipinos.
“I am appealing to the concerned agencies and entities to facilitate the additional budgetary allocation to all the departments identified in the period of interpellation,” he said.
In a statement, Bordado’s office said the lawmaker “believes that it is critical that programs that help vulnerable communities be prioritized and adequately funded by the government.”
“These programs, for which the legislator specifically requested a budget increase, will have a direct impact on the marginalized sector and will benefit the entire country,”it added.
The lawmaker raised several inquiries into the budgetary allocations for government programs when he attended the budget deliberations for these agencies.
As he interpolated during the Department of Education’s (DepEd) budget deliberations, Bordado fond that there was no budget allocated for Special Children and Children with Disabilities Education despite the agency’s budget increasing from P633.3 billion in 2022 to P710.6 billion in 2023.
The program, the solon said, would alleviate the suffering of poor families with special children and children with disabilities.
“So, Mr. Speaker, I am again asking for congressional initiatives to give this Special Children Education the necessary budgetary allocation, Mr. Speaker,” the lawmaker stated.
He also called for the restoration of the P10 billion budget cut from the proposed P93 billion budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs) for 2023 as he said this would impact 81 of the 116 SUCs in the country.
For Bordado, the budget cuts for SUCs will have a negative impact on their ability to safely reopen their campuses.
It could also result in a lower budget for maintenance and other operating expenses, as well as a lower budget for capital outlay and personnel.
The lawmaker was also saddened by the budget cut of P8 billion from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which would result in the reduction of allocation for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the agency’s main poverty reduction strategy that grants extremely poor households with additional budgetary support to improve their health, nutrition, and education, particularly for children aged 0-14.
Bordado requested additional budgetary allocations in light of the disapproval of the P778 million budget for the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
He also pushed for increased budgets for other DOTr programs, including for active transportation that would benefit the daily commuters and service contracts for the drivers and workers of the public utility transport.
Bordado believes an increase in the funding of the Philippine National Railway South Long Haul Project will also make the Bicol Express operational again.
This would benefit communities and the agricultural sector in South Luzon “greatly,” the lawmaker added.
Despite the increase of 10.4 percent to the Department of Health’s (DOH) 2023 budget that would bring its available fund to P296.3 billion, Bordado still found this “insufficient.”
He lamented how the Health department has been “failing to deliver” Covid-19 benefits, such as the One Covid-19 Allowance (OCA) and the increased salaries of nurses.
The lawmaker called for additional salaries or healthcare workers “to recognize the importance of the job, particularly during pandemics.”
Highlighting the need to invest in the country’s renewable energy resources, develop technologies, and provide incentives for national and local renewable energy planning, Bordado requested for an increase of P476 million for the DOE’s Renewable Energy Development Program, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program, and Alternative Fuels and Technologies Program.
Bordado said the program can “help identify the most viable and least-cost RE development and will soon benefit the entire country by lowering electricity costs.”
The lawmaker already expressed support to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. leading the Department of Agriculture (DA), but he wants to make sure that farmers and fishermen are prioritized in the agriculture budget and additional budgetary allocations should be made available to farmers and fishermen as needed.
The DA received a 39.2 percent budget increase for 2023, totaling P163.75 billion.